Dozens Protest Stolen Wages & Firings at Car Wash
SANTA FE–Today, workers from the Squeaky Clean Car Wash held a demonstration in front of the business on Cerrillos Road and filed a formal complaint with the National Labor Relations Board claiming that they were suspended in retaliation for filing wage claims with the state Wage and Hour Bureau.
Six workers holding up signs that said “Squeaky Clean Uses Dirty Tricks” and “Pay Us. Don’t Fire Us” were supported at the demonstration by representatives from local unions, faith groups, and Somos Un Pueblo Unido’s newly opened United Worker Center of New Mexico.
In April, the workers filed wage claims with the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions. They alleged that Squeaky Clean did not pay them the Santa Fe minimum wage, overtime, or for all the hours they worked. This week, the workers were suspended because they did not want to sign a form that retroactively classified them as day laborers instead of employees. Six workers filed a formal complaint today with the National Labor Relations Board claiming that the suspensions were retaliatory.
“We all have families and children to support. They count on our wages. We are good and loyal workers. All we are asking for is to be paid what we’re owed,” said Yarco Vidal, who has worked at the car wash for two years.
Jorge Porras, an employee of Squeaky Clean for four years added “It is an injustice that we are being mistreated and retaliated against for trying to assert our rights under the law.”
The Northern NM Central Labor Council (CLC) on Wednesday night endorsed the Squeaky Clean Workers’ efforts to reclaim their wages and decried the retaliatory suspensions.
“The CLC will be forwarding a letter to AFSCME and city and county agencies calling on them to suspend having public vehicles washed at this business until these worker are reinstated and until their wage dispute is resolved,” said Jennifer Garcia, President of the Northern NM Central Labor Council. “These workers are very courageous. As unions, we support all workers and their right to organize.”
Janine Anton, Executive Board Member of Communication Workers of America Local 7076 said “CWA is vehemently opposed to the suspension of any workers who ban together for better treatment and fair wages on the job. In the City of Santa Fe, lower wage jobs should be good jobs, pay decent wages, and come with dignity and respect.”
“Wage theft hurts working families and the local economy,” said Alma Castro, a community organizer at the United Worker Center of New Mexico. “It undercuts businesses that are following the rules and it’s demoralizing for workers. All workers have the right to be paid the minimum wage, overtime, and for every hour they are on job. If they file a claim, they are protected legally from retaliation.”
“Interfaith Worker Justice New Mexico will stand with the workers today and offer prayers and scriptures that support their God-given right as workers to be treated with justice and dignity,” said Reverend Dr. Holly Beaumont, Director of IWJ-NM.
Worker’s Committees organized by Somos Un Pueblo Unido have sucessfully filed six complaints with the National Labor Relations Board and have recuperated over half a million dollars in back wages and settlement fees.
For copies of complaints, contact Alma Castro at (216) 906-2215