UCLA Labor Center

CLEAN Carwash Campaign

CLEAN stands for Community Labor Environmental Action Network.  CLEAN is a diverse coalition of immigrant rights, legal, and labor organizations committed to improving the lives of working class families in the greater Los Angeles area. The CLEAN Carwash Campaign is a joint effort between CLEAN and the Carwash Workers Organizing Committee (CWOC) of the United Steel Workers.  Together CWOC and CLEAN work to support carwash workers standing up for their rights, improve health and safety protections for the 10,000 carwash workers in the greater Los Angeles area, and help keep our water and environment clean for LA communities.

Learn More about the Campaign

After 5 years of organizing, the CLEAN Carwash Campaign and carwash workers were able to successfully negotiate contracts with three carwashes in Los Angeles: Bonus Carwash in Santa Monica, and Vermont Navas Carwashes in South LA. These are the only carwashes with contracts not just in the Los Angeles area, but in the entire nation.

CLEAN Carwash Campaign: Power, Community, and Patnerships

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CLEAN Carwash Campaign: Carwash employee, Oscar Sanchez

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CLEAN Carwash Campaign: In the Words of the Campaign Organizer

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 Map of Unionized Car Washes

There are 14 “Better Carwashes” in South Central Los Angeles, the map is illustrative of the campaign’s efforts and development.

carwash map

Personal Narratives: Meet the Workers

The thousands of workers who shampoo, wax, dry, and detail cars are some of the most exploited workers in Los Angeles. They frequently work in appalling conditions for low or, in many instances, no wages. Too often, carwash owners flout labor laws, health and safety regulations, and environmental protections in their single-minded drive for profits. Their practices put workers, customers, and even the general public at risk.

Conditions faced by L.A. carwash workers include:

  • Workers typically work 10 hours a day, 6 days a week, frequently with no overtime pay.

  • Workers are often paid less than the legal minimum wage, sometimes working for tips alone and earning as little as $30-$40 per day ($3-$4/ hour).

  • Carwash workers are subject to health and safety hazards such as constant exposure to water and to dangerous chemicals without protective gear.

  • Workers in the industry have reported kidney damage, respiratory problems and nerve damage.

Click here to watch the workers Struggle.

Additional Resources