By Mark Peters, NYCOFI Board Chair
José Garcia* never moved fast enough for his boss, who was always threatening him if he didn’t hurry. One day, as he was getting towels out of the industrial dryer at the car wash where he works, José heard his boss telling him to hurry. As he rushed in response, his finger was crushed in the machine’s door. As it bled and throbbed, his boss called him a “baby” and told him to “stop being a girl.” When he called the next day to say he couldn’t work because his hand was too swollen to move, his boss continued calling him humiliating names and told him to take the whole week off. Without pay.
José needs a Low Wage Worker Day of Action.
The men and women who work at grocery stores and car washes throughout New York have endured years of low pay, long hours, and a lack of benefits, while working in unsafe conditions. Workers at Golden Farm Supermarket in Kensington, Brooklyn, were working 12 hour days, six days a week, for an average of $6 per hour without benefits, including sick or vacation time. Management “would always say we were animals . . . that we were stupid,” said one worker, who talked about the humiliation the staff received. The manager said “only he was intelligent, and that we were useless and didn’t know what we were doing.”
The workers with Golden Farm Supermarket need a Low Wage Worker Day of Action.
Employees at some New York City-based car washes work 15 hour shifts—from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm—for less than $5 per hour and without overtime, despite state law to the contrary.
Full time work should do more than keep you in poverty. Workers at these car washes definitely need a Low Wage Worker Day of Action!
Working conditions get even more complicated if you’re injured on the job. Appallingly, workers at many grocery stores and car washes—as well as in many other low-wage service industries—have been forced to lie to hospital staff about their work-related injuries. Grocery store employees have shocking tales of being locked in unheated stores overnight—only to face laughter by their bosses who discover them the next morning.
These are just a few of the stories behind the people who are organizing the July 24th Low Wage Worker Day of Action. Join us! To learn more, go to United NY’s website.
*Not his real name.