LINCOLN BLVD – The Bonus Car Wash union is the Neil Armstrong of carwash unions.
In 2011, they were first. The agreement made national headlines. Now there are several dozen unionized carwashes across the country.
On Friday, members of the union and Bonus representatives celebrated the renewal of the contract.
“The original labor pact at Bonus gave workers a wage increase, grievance and arbitration procedures, and compliance with health and safety laws – critical in an industry in which workers handle harsh detergents and chemicals – including providing workers with safety equipment and clean drinking water,” said Gabriella Rosco, a representative from CLUE LA, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice Los Angeles. “The new contract, negotiated between members of the United Steelworkers Local 675 and the carwash, provides an additional wage increase and seniority rights for employees.”
CLUE officials noted that they’ve been pushing two other city carwashes to unionize but have had no luck.
Car wash labor issues abound in Southern California.
Last year, Wilshire West Car Wash and two of its supervisors pleaded no contest to six misdemeanor charges after it was determined they were cheating workers. The Santa Monica car wash had to pay $656,000 in back wages for, among other things, failing to pay minimum wage. City Hall filed the original criminal charges.
Despite Bonus’ union credentials, they failed to pull in a city contract in 2012. City Hall avoided Bonus, which also submitted the cheapest bid, favoring instead Lincoln Boulevard Car Wash because the former had a poor environmental record. The Regional Water Quality Control Board said runoff from the carwash was polluting the water.
On Friday CLUE and the Community Labor Environmental Action Network (CLEAN), a program working to unionize Los Angeles car washes, brought cake and balloons to celebrate the contract renewal.
Workers were busy. Four of them had about half an hour to enjoy the cake before returning to work. The cake was left in the break room.
The carwash owner is out of the country, according to CLUE representatives, but a manager attended the celebration.