Big city carwash workers often work long hours for little pay with few protections from chemicals.  State prosecutors are now investigating and punishing abusive employers, and a new campaign by community organizations is encouraging workers to demand respect for their rights.

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Andrés Caballero has been an active contributor to Latino USA for more than a year. He holds a M.S. in Journalism from the Columbia University School of Journalism, and a B.S. in Political Science from Notre Dame De Namur University. He covers issues that affect Latinos across the U.S., and he has also contributed to New America Media, the Hispanic Link News Service in Washington D.C., and El Tecolote in San Francisco.

3 thoughts on “Car Wash Wage Theft

  1. Dear Maria and Andres:
    This story really hit a nerve with me this evening. I don’t speak Spanish very well so I appreciate your efforts to warn me of the dangers which lurk at my neighborhood car wash. Namely the chemicals which are being used. This should also be a heads up for those organizations who think that doing a car wash fundraiser is a harmless event.
    I rarely take my car to a service car wash, one because it is expensive for me and two I feel extremely guilty sitting there while people wait on me hand and foot to do something that I should be doing myself. I have no embarrassment about driving around Orange County with a dirty car, knowing how much water is used just to wash one car.
    However, one week ago I went to the nearby self-serve car wash which is next to the full service car wash with the intention of washing off the summer bugs with just water, no soap. I was hoping the power spray would loosen them with out any soap because I am aware of the harsh chemicals which the soap companies are allowed to use in our environment.
    I made the mistake of wearing flip-flops, thinking that I was only going to use water. There was still enough soap residue on the hose from the last customer to get on my hands and drip on my feet. By the time I got home a few minutes later my hands and my feet were itching and burning. I rinsed them off furiously with more water. That evening the top of my feet and the palms of my hands and arms filled with blisters. What on earth are they putting in the soap when so little of it can have such a powerful effect. One week later I still have angry maroon blisters on my feet and crusty skin on my hands.
    I washed our family car many times as a youth and I never had this kind of reaction to the soap. If the soap they are using is this hazardous what else are they doing. Its not just your dry cleaner that might be using chemicals which are bad for us and the environment. It was a real wake up call for me to realize that something is going on at our local car wash that we are in the dark about.

  2. Spot on with tuis write-up, I seriously believe that this amazing site need much more attention.
    I’ll probably be returning to read more, thanks
    for the info!

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