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Workers Create First Car Wash Union.

After fighting for several years against unfair practices by the car wash business owners, 60 workers, backed by the United Steelworkers, have created the first car wash workers union in Los Angeles.

“We’re already seeing the benefits. We’re enjoying them already, because if we now see ourselves working eight hours and if we work more they pay us extra,” Exar Amador, a worker at Navas Car Wash, told Efe.

“If we work more than half an hour overtime in the afternoon we’re paid and before it wasn’t that way,” said the Honduran-born worker.

The employees at Navas Car Wash and Vermont Car Wash recently joined the newly-formed union promoted by CLEAN – Community-Labor-Environmental Action Network – and the Carwash Workers Organizing Committee of the United Steelworkers.

The new organization of car wash workers, in which employees of Bonus Car Wash in Santa Monica – who unionized themselves last year – are also included, are members of the USW, which is part of the AFL-CIO.

Amador, who belongs to a group of 10 Hispanic union members at the Navas Car Wash, said that in the car cleaning business in Los Angeles, which employs around 10,000 people, mistreatment by the bosses and the low pay with long working hours “are put up with by the majority out of necessity.”

“There’s no respect for us, at times they treat us as subhumans,” said the union member.

“And there’s no right to say: hey! I’m hungry. I want to rest my half hour and (eat) something. What they say is: there’s a lot of work. You keep working,” he said.

The CLEAN Carwash Campaign began to protest the workplace mistreatment at several car washes, where most of the workers are Hispanic, about 10 years ago.

“We Hispanics today are demanding our rights more. Our voice is being listened to more,” said Amador.

“With the signed contracts, the car wash union members and the owners of those businesses have agreed that instead of paying them $50 or less to work 12 or more hours per day, now they are going to earn $8.16 per hour for 8-hour days or overtime if the workday runs longer,” Robert Cox of USW Local 675 told Efe.

Neidi Dominguez, the legal representative of the CLEAN Carwash Campaign, told Efe that the characteristics of the car wash union members are that they are immigrants, Spanish-speaking and probably the majority of them are undocumented.

“Therefore, to organize themselves they need the full support of attorneys and other workers’ organizations to lose their fear of demanding what the law mandates in the U.S.,” Dominguez said.

“At this time, the immigrant population is under attack by anti-immigrant policies and so they’re more afraid,” the attorney said. Source: Fox News Latino.


Boom! Congressional Panel Initiates Union Dues Fight.

A US congressional committee took up what it calls an issue of economic freedom, one that pits unions against a number of governors and even some fellow workers.

The issue is simple — should workers, in private industry or government, have union dues automatically subtracted from their salaries, whether they like it or not? And voluntary or not, how much power should they have to keep the unions from spending their money on political campaigns they do not agree with?

“My union was using my union dues to push a political agenda that I oppose,” according to Terry Bowman, a United Auto Workers (UAW) member in Michigan.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the chairman of the committee, said this is not an anti-union issue — but rather one of workers’ rights.

“Do workers and unionized organizations have a right to know more than they currently know?” he asked. “What it’s being used for and whether, in fact, it has to be taken from them?”

The states govern many of these issues. In 27 of them, unions can automatically subtract money from workers’ paychecks, whether they join the union or not, on the rationale that if they did not pay, they would still benefit from the unions’ collective bargaining.

“This creates a ‘free rider problem,’ where the union is obligated to provide services, but people are not obligated to pay,” according to Kenneth Dau-Schmidt, a law professor at Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law.

The other 23 states have “right to work” laws that prevent automatic dues.

The Supreme Court, however, ruled that any workers who do pay money to the unions also have the right to keep it from being spent on anything other than collective bargaining, such as political campaigns.

But Bowman said that does not work very well for what he says are the 40 percent of union workers who vote Republican.

“That means almost six million union workers in the United States alone feel harassed and persecuted because of the political activities of their union officials,” he said.

Democrats complained loudly that Congress should examine corporate money in politics, but many agree on worker rights.

“Unions may not force their members to pay for political activities they disagree with,” Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said. “Unions are already subject to extensive administrative procedures and reporting requirements to ensure they comply with these laws.”

The Obama administration, however, has weakened those requirements.

President Barack Obama rescinded an order from President George W. Bush that federal workers be informed of their right to challenge how their money is spent, and polls show many workers are unaware of their rights.  Source: MyFox. Philadelphia.

N.J Teachers Union Boss With $500K Salary Tells Poor “Life’s Not Fair.”

New Jersey Education Association Executive Director Vincent Giordano appeared the “New Jersey Capitol Report” this weekend to discuss the costs of education. Giordano tells poor families who can’t afford to go to better schools “life’s not always fair.” Transcript below.

Host: The issue of fairness, I mean this is the argument that a lot of voucher supporters make. People who are well off have options. Somebody who is not well off and whose child is in a failing school, why shouldn’t those parents have the same options to get the kid out of the failing school and into one that works with the help of the state?

NJEA boss Vincent Giordano: Those parents should have exactly the same options and they do. We don’t say you can’t take your kid out of the public school. We would argue not and we would say ‘let’s work more closely and more harmoniously’ …

Host: They can’t afford to pay, you know that. Some of these parents can’t afford to take their child out of these schools.

Giordano: Life’s not always fair and I’m sorry about that.

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