(l to r back row) New York Communities for Change organizer Chio Valerio, RWDSU attorneys Liz Vladek and Larry Cary and RWDSU Assistant to the President David Mertz look on as Sunny Day worker Juan Campis signs new RWDSU contract.
After joining the RWDSU and engaging their employer in a 13-week strike, the workers at Sunny Day Car Wash in the Bronx ratified a three-year contract that mirrors the contract the union reached with another carwash in Queens less than two weeks ago. This makes Sunny Day the second car wash east of Los Angeles to be covered by a union contract.
“We are thankful to the WASH NY campaign, without their support none of this would have been possible,” said Juan Campis, a worker at Sunny Day. “I feel like we won what many deemed impossible.”
Jaime Morales, a worker at Sunny Day from Mexico said: “It feels great to accomplish something that we thought was impossible and to show everyone that we won. Once again we demonstrated, si se puede! (yes, we can!)”
Highlights of the 3-year deal, which took effect June 4, 2013, include an immediate increase of 28 cents per hour, bringing workers to a minimum of $7.53 an hour including tips. Three more raises over the life of the contract will bring workers to a minimum of $9.18 an hour. The contract also protects immigrant workers, expands protections against discrimination, increases job security by establishing seniority, and requires that a shop steward supervise the counting and distribution of tips.
Starting next year, workers will get five paid days a year and two personal days, and in addition they won the right to take leave to attend to immigration issues.
They will also be entitled to a 4-week leave to return to their home countries.
In addiion the employer must have just cause to fire a worker and establishes a grievance procedure and binding third party arbitration.
It was unjust firings of workers that caused the successful 13-week strike by Sunny Day workers last year.
“This car wash contract has broad significance for all New Yorkers. It proves that low-wage immigrant workers are able and willing to stand up and fight for better lives through unionization,” said RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum.
“We congratulate these carwasheros for their courage in this fight,” he said. “This contract sends a powerful message to other car wash and low wage workers throughout New York City: You can fight back against poor wages and working conditions, and you can win by joining the RWDSU.”