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Car Wash Workers

Posted on Dec 11, 2009
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Some 10,000 workers in Los Angeles are the backbone of the highly profitable car wash industry. But the profits are largely derived from employers’ violations of workers’ legal rights.

There is rampant violation of minimum wage, overtime, rest and meal period, workers' compensation, and occupational health and safety laws. Workers suffer from exposure to toxic materials, inadequate drinking water provisions, and lack of protective gear.

Worksafe has initiated and participated in efforts to address the health and safety hazards faced by car wash workers for over six years.


In 2008, a diverse coalition of nonprofit organizations, including Worksafe, joined together as the Community-Labor-Environmental Action Network (CLEAN) in order to improve the lives of working families in greater Los Angeles.

The CLEAN Carwash Campaign is a joint effort of CLEAN and the Carwash Workers Organizing Committee (CWOC) of the United Steelworkers (USW). The goal is to raise car wash workers' standard of living, to secure basic workplace protections for those workers, and to address the serious environmental and safety hazards in the Los Angeles car wash industry.

Over the years, Worksafe has provided trainings, as well as technical assistance and advice in the development of educational materials to our CLEAN allies. Some of the materials that Worksafe helped to develop include:

  • A health and safety checklist for workers to identify hazards and inform their employers about what is required, at a minimum, to protect workers according to Cal/OSHA laws and regulations

Worksafe has also served as a liaison to environmental groups with knowledge of toxics to develop effective strategies to protect workers from injury and death due to the toxics to which they are exposed.

Recently, Worksafe assisted the legal services programs representing car wash workers in the filing of three Cal/OSHA complaints against three separate car washes in Los Angeles that were in violation of worker health and safety laws. Citations were issued at the three car washes and Worksafe provided legal advice regarding the appeals process.

To learn more about The CLEAN Carwash Campaign, including working conditions at car washes, environmental implications of badly run car washes, and more, click here to visit the CLEAN website.

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