Defiant Stand Tall in the Bronx
November 29, 2012
By Joe Maniscalco
Twelve axed car wash workers in the Bronx are refusing to give up their fight to be reinstated after the owner of Sunny Day Car Wash located at 135th Street fired them earlier this month for daring to challenge unacceptable working conditions and withheld pay.
"I am proud to continue to stand with the workers of Sunny Day Car Wash who are fighting for their right to unionize, State Senator Gustavo Rivera told LaborPress. "On Monday, I joined them in asking management to give workers their jobs back. These car washeros have shown tremendous courage in standing up for their right to organize and form a union, despite being told it might cost them their jobs."
Earlier this week, Senator Rivera and New York City Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito joined the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union and other members of the Wash New York campaign in calling on Sunny Day Car Wash owner Frank Roman to reinstate the 12 workers originally fired on November 11. And to stipulate to an election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board in order to determine the union’s representational status.
Thus far, Roman – who is reportedly utilizing workers from another car wash owned in Queens to keep Sunny Day operating – has been unresponsive. The coalition is now weighing a variety of legal and organizing options to convince the car wash owner to reconsider.
"Car washeros deserve to be treated with respect," RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum said. "We are demanding justice. This car wash is dirty – not because of the cars it cleans, but because of the way the workers are being treated. They deserve better and they know that the only way things are going to get better is by becoming part of a strong union."
Despite recently being paid the wages they were owed, the fired car wash workers, -largely Latin-American immigrants – along with their supporters, continue to picket outside Sunny Day Car Wash. Efforts to have them legally removed from the site located near the Third Avenue bridge, have reportedly been struck down.
Counsels for the coalition supporting the fired "car washeros" have advised Roman that the groups will continue to picket Sunny Day, as well as "undertake all lawful efforts to convince the consuming public to boycott your client’s business."
The job action At Sunny Day Car Wash is just one part of a rising tide of unionism that is poised to roll across New York's notoriously anti-labor car wash industry. So far, four car washes located around the city have made history by being the first to vote overwhelmingly to join the RWDSU.