Striking Carwasheros, Supporters Rally in Brooklyn

Dozens of chanting, sign-waving community members, elected officials and clergy held a march through Park Slope and a rally on Sunday to show support for ‘carwasheros’ who have been striking Vegas Auto Spa for nearly a month.

“I am here today because the owner owes us a lot of money, makes us do work without safety protection and he does not want to recognize the union,” said Jaime Miranda, 23, who has worked at Vegas for six years. “It is time for us to speak up.”

“We are here in solidarity with these courageous workers who went on strike for the right to join a union just before the holidays,” said RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum. “As difficult as this is just 10 days from Christmas, these workers are standing up for their right to vote to join a union for better pay, job protections and respect.”

Council Members Brad Lander and Carlos Menchaca and Assemblyman Jesse Hamilton, clergy, community supporters and officials from the RWDSU, New York Communities for Change and Make the Road New York proclaimed support for the workers who held a 10-block march from 9th St. and 7th Ave. in Park Slope to Vegas Auto Spa at 555 Seventh Ave. and 19th St.

A press conference and rally followed at the car wash to support strikers, who walked off the job after being initially locked out.

Hernan Lopez, who has worked at Vegas since 2009, said: “We are fighting for our rights. We want the owner to accept the union so we can go back to work. We only want to be treated fairly and paid honestly for the work we do.”

Eight workers at Vegas Auto Spa sued owner Marat Leshehinsky in Brooklyn Federal Court on Oct. 7, 2014, alleging wage theft of at least $600,000 and perhaps more than $1 million through wage and hour violations. They claim they were sometimes paid less than the minimum wage and worked as many as 90 hours a week without overtime.

They went on strike November 19, 2014, demanding to be allowed to join the union of their choice, the RWDSU. The owner is refusing to recognize the union and is trying to block the workers from voting on whether to unionize.

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