Santa Monica Car Wash Sets Standard for Social Justice

October 25, 2011 was an historic moment for labor unions in the United States. After years of fighting deplorable workplace conditions, workers at Bonus Car Wash in Santa Monica secured the first carwash contract in the country. For decades, thousands of carwash workers have suffered abuses including pay that’s as low as $35 for a 10-hour day, and exposure to toxic chemicals without protective gear. Under the terms of the new agreement, workers at Bonus will receive a pay raise and safety protections. The contract also provides protections for immigrant workers, such as translating work rules for those who don’t speak English.

Ticket writer Vence Tenison said injuries aren’t a problem at Bonus, where he has worked for eight years. “The contracts will mostly help at other car washes, where owners fire their workers on the spot. Now they will have someone standing up for them.”

The agreement is the first victory by the Community Labor Environmental Action Network (CLEAN) Campaign. Organizer Chloe Osmer said Bonus owners care about their employees and wanted to set an example so other “carwasheros” won’t be afraid to stand up and join the union.

“It’s our job to make sure that Bonus remains a model carwash,” Osmer said. “We want consumers across Los Angeles County to know where they can take their car for a union wash that also supports social justice.”