Organizing and invoking their labor rights is the American way
Workers chronically stiffed of the minimum wage they are supposed to be guaranteed. Stolen tips. Overtime not counted or not properly paid.
Regular exposure, without proper safeguards, to chemicals that can harm health long term. Injuries sustained by working with hazardous machinery — and often no recompense.
In one industry, too often ignored, can be found the full range of the worst practices to which low-income and immigrant workers are subjected.
More power to the car wash workers who, in a new push this week, have chosen to exercise their freedom under law to try to organize with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.
By pooling together and pushing back against unfair and sometimes illegal wages and work conditions — which have been found repeatedly over the years by government watchdogs and nonprofit groups — they can build better lives for themselves and their families.
No, it won’t be easy. The city’s 200 or so car washes are mostly stand-alone operations, making it tougher for organized labor to find a partner on the other side of the table.
And surely not all car washes are mistreating their workers.
But the grime is out there, all around, and must be brought to the surface.
This is the United States, not China. Organizing is a right. And when there’s injustice to be fought, it is a virtue.