The workers of Los Angeles car washes were once part of a shining industry. Now the industry is plagued with poor working conditions and jobs that pay under the minimum wage. Some of these Los Angeles workers are now fighting for employee rights. They are working to get more workers to join a newly established union.

The union is part of the United Steelworkers union and so far 60 car wash workers have joined. That means that nearly 10,000 more workers could still be going unrepresented, underpaid and overworked.

Organizers are saying the union will allow workers to receive $8.16 per hour and protections from safety hazards and proper breaks. Many of the workers of car washes in the Los Angeles area don’t have employee rights and are asked to work long days with no lunch breaks and sometimes only $3 or $4 per hour, well under the minimum wage.

All employees are entitled to a safe work environment, and the right to know what is in the chemicals they are working with. It is unclear why the industry has been able violate employees’ rights without facing more scrutiny up until now, but employees should understand that they can be protected under the law.

Sometimes people are afraid to speak up about violations that their employer does, for fear of losing their job. Employees who feel their rights have been violated would be wise to speak with an employment law attorney who can help them understand what action they can take to enforce their rights as an employee.

Source: Huffington Post, “Car Wash Workers Unionize In Los Angeles,” Lila Shapiro, Feb. 23, 2012