Car wash workers were among the thousands who marched through the streets of New York City on Thursday to demand an increase in minimum wage, an end to deportations and the enforcement of workers’ rights. As many as 1,500 people attended a rally at City Hall for May Day, the annual labor celebration.
“New York City is at the forefront in the fight for better working conditions,” said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who addressed the crowds. The first Latina speaker in 50 years, she has helped lead an effort to unionize car wash workers in the city, who are largely made up of Hispanic immigrants. “The City Council is behind you.”
One car wash worker, a man from Mexico, spoke through an interpreter at the rally. He said he was denied overtime pay, and his employer had withheld his wages of $4 per hour. Recently, after a settlement with the attorney general, the workers were awarded their back pay and negotiated a contract with a car wash owner in Queens.
“May Day is big because it speaks to the aspirations of our city and our country,” said New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer.