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L.A. car washes charged with wage abuse, union busting

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in Compensation and Benefits,Human Resources

On Feb. 9, the state of California filed a criminal complaint accusing four Los Angeles car washes, their owners and one manager of wage-and-hour law violations and for creating “a work environment that bordered on indentured servitude.”

Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo filed the 176-count complaint in Superior Court, accusing the owners of failing to pay minimum wage and overtime pay. It contended they also failed to provide rest and meal breaks in violation of the California Labor Code.

In addition, the complaint alleged that workers trying to organize a union of car wash workers or cooperating with government or labor union investigations “faced routine intimidation and harassment.” The United Steelworkers of America, which has been trying for about a year to organize the region’s car wash workers, brought the alleged violations to Delgadillo’s attention.

The complaint raises allegations similar to those cited in a proposed class action filed in May 2008 against the same owners.

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