This story is a perfect example of how an endless supply of cheap illegal labor promotes low wages and the abuse of workers. How can an American compete at $1.63 an hour? GuardDog

“Paid workers at some of the other 1,000 washes throughout Southern California said they earned as little as $1.63 an hour. As of January, the minimum wage rose to $8 an hour.”

“We sweat like animals,” said detailer Manuel Varela, 42, who until recently worked at a carwash just west of downtown Los Angeles.”

“Immigration authorities have done little to discourage the steady flow of undocumented workers into carwash jobs, affording owners an endless supply of cheap, eager and easily exploited laborers.”

Inspectors find dirt on books at Southern Calif. carwashes
Los Angeles Times
March 23, 2008

Owners frequently violate labor and immigration laws with little risk of penalty, officials say. Many workers are loath to complain, but some have formally accused their bosses of underpaying them.

Ateam of state inspectors strode into the Blue Wave Car Wash in West Los Angeles, past latte-sipping customers in electric massage chairs and into the gritty carwash tunnel.

“¿Cuánto gana usted?” the inspectors asked worker after worker, about 20 of them, most Latino immigrants. “How much do you make?” Each carwashero responded that he earned minimum wage or more — just as the owner of the Blue Wave, one of the region’s busiest carwashes, had told the inspectors.

Looking over payroll records, however, the regulators became suspicious. Employees who said they were full time were listed as working just 10 or 15 hours a week.

Inspector Martha Mendoza ushered Juan Cruz Santiago, a small man with salt-and-pepper hair, away from the others. During gentle questioning under a ficus tree, he admitted that most days, he and his 66-year-old father worked for tips only. So did nearly half the other employees, he said. It had been that way for at least six years.

“It’s bad,” the 41-year-old Oaxacan immigrant whispered to Mendoza, his eyes darting nervously toward his boss’ office. “Other carwashes are the same, no?”

Many are. A Times investigation has found that hand carwashes — automotive beauty shops patronized by tens of thousands of Southern California motorists every day — often brazenly violate basic labor and immigration laws with little risk of penalty.

Half or more of carwash owners flout the minimum-wage law, estimated David Dorame, the longtime lead investigator for low-wage industries at California’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.

Despite many undocumented workers’ reluctance to complain to authorities, employees at a fifth of Southern California’s carwashes in the last five years have formally accused owners of illegally underpaying them, The Times found.

From Santa Monica to Westwood to Koreatown, many workers said they received only tips for some or all of their shifts. Labor division inspectors estimated that about 10% to 20% of car dryers are not paid by owners.

“Tips only” is a requirement for some new workers until owners are satisfied that they can properly dry a car, laborers said. Their take is typically $10 to $30 a day.

At the Blue Wave, owner Isaac Shanfeld told inspectors that all of his workers earn at least minimum wage, costing him $700,000 a year. The Beverly Hills resident said he didn’t know of anyone working for tips alone, but added: “I can’t police everyone.” After the inspection last fall, he was issued a $2,600 citation for wage violations……

To read entire article click here.

7 Responses to “Car Washes In S. Calif. Abuse Illegal Immigrants”
  1. jo says:

    first of all, unless things have changed, certain jobs do not fall under the minimun wage law. like waitresses do not make the minimun wage because tips are involved and the government has figgered that the tips more than cover the minimun wage thing. at least i know that it was that way, so on the surface this sounds bad, but it is just half baked crap.

    my first reaction was so what, who gives a damm, they need to go home, however ,this people don’t feel the need to pay income taxes, are getting all the “free” government money and other goodies. no complaints there. on a deeper level, they are in bed with the employers. they are getting paid mostly OFF the books.
    the employer is showing these other books with heavy payroll. it is all just garbage. lies, lies, lies…………….GO THE F**K HOME ALREADY! tried of the crap! put those criminal employers in jail, NOW. i am tried of carrying ALL you sons of b*t*hes!

  2. Eddie B. says:

    Slavery 2008. This proves to me that the IRS has been compliicit in this all along too. All the companies using this cheap labor is just a s bad as Booosh and his NWO cronies.

    YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR AND YOUR CHICKENS WILL ALWAYS COME HOME TO ROOST. ALWAYS. SO GET READY… IT’S COMING.

  3. Matthew says:

    I abuse them too, with a big smile on my face. I don’t tip them! Ha haa haa ha! It would be politically incorrect if we all didn’t abuse them too since the feds, states and immigration can look the other way and let it go on and on. Illegal alien and migrant abuse is the new thing man, get with it.

  4. David from California says:

    I’ll wash and dry my own DAMN car…! I’ll mow my own LAWN too…!

  5. K2 says:

    “…employees at a fifth of Southern California?s carwashes in the last five years have formally accused owners of illegally underpaying them, The (LA)Times found.”-

    The irony. It burns. The owners aren’t “illegally paying them”, they are simply giving them UNDOCUMENTED WAGES. This sort of intolerant defamation against Employers is unacceptable!

    Did not the LA Times get the memo regarding the use of Newspeak?

  6. BEADALONG says:

    Yup, I wash and dry my own car.

    That’s a good one, K2, “Undocumented wages.”

    But as Watchdog pointed out, this kind of pay undercutting undermines other workers paychecks and how do we compete with that?

  7. K2 says:

    ?We sweat like animals,? said detailer Manuel Varela…”-

    Must….. bite…. tongue….

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