The Los Angeles area is notorious for the plethora of cars that clog its roads and highways. Less known, however, are the rampant labor violations prevalent in LA’s carwash industry, which has become the next frontier in the fight for economic justice and immigrant rights.
In the Los Angeles area, there are over 500 car washes in operation. Collectively, they employ more than 10,000 workers, many of whom toil in an environment rife with abuses. Carwasheros attest to spending months working for tips alone, going home with less than $40 in their pocket after putting in grueling 10-hour days without breaks. Despite their hard work, many are routinely denied overtime pay and rest, and are threatened when they advocate for their rights. Workers also are regularly exposed to toxic chemicals in car cleaning products. Experiences like this are systemic in a work environment that routinely exploits its work base, mainly comprised of immigrants or undocumented workers.
This video captures the stories of Carwasheros in the Los Angeles area who are fighting back – and in doing so, have sparked a movement at the intersection of the labor and immigrant rights movements.