Archived: L.A. Council Tells Car Wash Owners to ‘Settle’

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Resolution supports lawsuit alleging labor law violations.

EGP News Service

Saying carwash employees are typically underpaid and work in dangerous conditions, the Los Angeles City Council adopted a resolution today calling for business owners to settle a lawsuit aimed a making sure they follow labor laws.

In May, the nonprofit legal aid group Bet Tzedek sued four carwash owners on behalf of workers, alleging the owners were violating labor laws. Employers allegedly ignored minimum wage and overtime laws and denied workers meal and rest breaks.

City Councilmen Ed Reyes and Eric Garcetti, who sponsored the resolution and support the CLEAN Carwash Campaign, urged business owners to reach a “just and decent agreement for all parties involved.”

The City Council unanimously approved the resolution.

The head of the county’s Federation of Labor is also behind the effort.

“In a city like Los Angeles, where there’s so many cars and we all, many times, end up taking our cars to be washed at these car washes, we should be aware of what is going on,” said Maria Elena Durazo.

The lawsuit named four carwashes owned and operated by brothers Benny and Nisan Pirian — Vermont Hand Wash, Celebrity Car Wash, Hollywood Car Wash and Five Star Car Wash.

Madeline Janis of the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy said carwash owners are violating the city’s living wage ordinance, which requires companies that do business with the city to pay workers $10 an hour plus benefits or $11.25 without.

It was unclear what kind of contracts the city may have with carwashes.

Pedro Guzman said he earns $35 a day, even though he often works 60 hours per week washing cars.

“This is the reason why we’re trying to organize, to reach the objective of being able to work 40 hours per week,” Guzman said, speaking via a translator. “We would like for the work that we do in this industry to be recognized.”

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