Los Angeles, (April 27, 2009) –Screen Actors Guild members were at the forefront of Saturday’s community picket that defended the rights of carwash workers.
The action, part of the Community Labor Environmental Action Network’s CLEAN Carwash Campaign, raised awareness of the ongoing boycott of Vermont Hand Wash in the Los Feliz community, where many SAG members reside. Complaints filed with the National Labor Relations Board allege firing and retaliation against carwash employees for speaking out publicly about their workplace conditions.
While there were some tense moments during the two-hour action, including what appeared to be an attempt by an unidentified motorist to strike picketers on the sidewalk, the protest ended peacefully and with dialogue between management and labor representatives.
“I hope that my perspective, being from the Latin community and a worker too, will in some way help management recognize that employees need basic protections and a voice in their workplace,” said SAG National Board Member Esai Morales following the event. “I think by Screen Actors Guild’s presence overall, we demonstrated the power of brotherhood in the labor community, and that what affects one worker affects all of us.”
Vermont Hand Wash is just one of the L.A.-area carwashes owned by the Pirian family that have fallen under scrutiny, which in February included criminal charges from the city attorney’s office.
According to information provided by CLEAN, Pirian carwashes have been cited and/or fined since 2003 for failing to pay employees at least minimum wage (Celebrity Car Wash) and failing to provide workers compensation insurance (Five Star Car Wash), among other offenses. California’s Occupational Safety and Health Agency says the owners have failed to ensure adequate guarding from machinery or provide personal protective equipment to employees at certain carwash locations.
Screen Actors Guild was joined Saturday by representatives from Teamsters 399.
The boycott is being coordinated by the Carwash Workers Organizing Committee of the United Steelworkers of America, an AFL-CIO affiliate, in association with CLEAN.
For more information on the CLEAN Carwash Campaign, click here. http://www.cleancarwashla.org/
SAG members can sign up to be notified of Member Organizing Volunteer Efforts here. http://www.sag.org/move