CLEAN is the Community-Labor-Environmental Action Network. They are a national coalition set up by the United Steelworkers' Carwash Workers Organizing Committee (CWOC) to bring workplace protections and establish a collective bargaining precedent for the car wash workers of Los Angeles and beyond.
Today, they announced they've reached their first contract with Bonus Carwash in Santa Monica. This marks the first contract in the United States that addresses the decades of abuse suffered by car wash workers.
Oliverio Gomez, who has worked at Bonus Car Wash for nine years, said, “I’m so happy we have a union and a contract. Now we get to take our breaks, if we’re thirsty we can drink water, and they respect the schedule, and all of the hours we work are in our paycheck. But the biggest difference is we finally get respect as workers.”
The contract includes a wage increase, health and safety protections, grievance and arbitration procedures and protections for workers if the carwash is sold. The agreement also establishes rights that protect workers from being unfairly punished or dismissed, among other things.
In light of the current social awareness movements across the world, its heartwarming to see positive tangible results. As a burgeoning Organizer, I was sent to an AFL-CIO Organizing conference within weeks of starting with the Guild. There, I met some of the AFL-CIO organizers assisting the CLEAN campaign. After hearing how their campaigns were going, I was left wondering if I would ever hear of success from their actions.
While this in no way diminishes the struggle CLEAN still has in front of them, it certainly destroys the argument that unionization has missed its opportunities in our corner of the world. The strength of the collective voice will always have its place when the workforce is ready to use it.