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Calif. Car Washes Agree to $1 Million Back Pay Settlement

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Image: Mike HallEight California car washes agreed to an historic $1 million settlement with the state’s attorney general for routinely failing to pay minimum wage or overtime, creating false records of work hours and not paying money owed to employees who quit, according to Attorney General Kamala Harris.

Workers at these car washes were taken advantage of by unscrupulous employers who illegally denied them the pay and benefits they earned. I am pleased that the resolution of this case will allow workers to receive the pay they are owed.

At least $800,000 of the settlement will go to workers who were underpaid, according to court records. Other parts of the settlement will pay taxes and penalties. Click here for a copy of the settlement agreement.

Two of the of the car washes in the agreement are Bonus Car Wash in Santa Monica and Marina Car Washin Venice, where workers fought and won recognition with United Steelworkers (USW) Local 675 last year. Says Local 75?s Dave Campbell:

We are glad that the Attorney General is taking seriously the issue of wage theft among car wash workers. Workers have been waiting to be made whole for past violations for years.

The workers there and at other Southern California carwashes came together in the CLEAN Carwash Campaign to fight for their rights. The CLEAN Carwash Campaign is a coalition supported by the USW, the AFL-CIO and more than 100 community, faith and labor organizations in Los Angeles. For more information, click here.

More good news from the Clean Carwash Campaign: the owner of Navas Car Wash in Marina Del Ray, the successor company to BJ Car Wash, agreed to respect and sign the union contract agreed to by the previous owner and ratified in early November.

This blog originally appeared in AFL-CIO Now blog on January 11, 2012. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Mike Hall is a former West Virginia newspaper reporter, staff writer for the United Mine Workers Journal and managing editor of the Seafarers Log. He came to the AFL- CIO in 1989 and has written for several federation publications, focusing on legislation and politics, especially grassroots mobilization and workplace safety. “When my collar was still blue, I carried union cards from the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers, American Flint Glass Workers and Teamsters for jobs in a chemical plant, a mining equipment manufacturing plant and a warehouse. I’ve also worked as roadie for a small-time country-rock band, sold my blood plasma and played an occasional game of poker to help pay the rent. You may have seen me at one of several hundred Grateful Dead shows. I was the one with longhair and the tie-dye. Still have the shirts, lost the hair.”


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