LOS ANGELES — Carwash employees and multiple labor groups in California are fighting serious abuses in the industry, according to dailykos.com.
The Sept. 5 story quoted the group Cuentame who said carwash operators routinely violate basic employment laws that permit workers to take breaks and provide access to shade and clean drinking water.
Also, carwash employees frequently work more than 10 hours a day more than six days a week with no overtime, and these workers are often paid much less than legal minimum wage, the story stated.
Employees who complain about exploitive workplace conditions are often intimidated and threatened by carwash operators, according to the story.
Another group, the Community-Labor-Environmental Action Network (CLEAN), is quoted in the story as saying they’re committed to supporting carwash workers in organizing a union, improving carwash working conditions and demanding environmental cleanup of carwash wastewater.
GLENVIEW, IL — After months of debates and meetings with village officials here, Mr. Clean executives withdrew its carwash plans, but did not give a reason why, a GlenviewPatch story said.
The April 13 story quoted plan commission Chairman Steven Bucklin who said, “I personally don't know the reasons why,” and added he was disappointed in the decision. However, he said the carwash may not have been the right fit for the location. “So I’m disappointed that a business wanted to locate here and chose not to for whatever reason, but I believe the process that went forward is the right process because it brought out the issues and some of the concerns of the neighbors and that’s what this whole process is all about."
The carwash plans had been discussed and debated for months, mostly because of concerns having to do with runoff pollution and traffic. Residents and other business owners attended a public hearing last February to speak out against the carwash. PC&D reported on that public hearing meeting, and that story can be found here.
SAN FRANCISCO — City Attorney Dennis Herrera has set up a lawsuit against the Tower Car Wash for more than $3 million in back wages it owes to hundreds of workers, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The Aug. 18 story said the lawsuit will also cover penalties and interest. The lawsuit, which has also been filed by La Raza Centro Legal, an immigrant legal services group, was filed in San Francisco Superior Court yesterday. Tower Car Wash is being sued for allegedly violating state and local wage laws by making employees work for hours before clocking in. One employee said he would have to wait in a windowless room until it was determined that the carwash was busy enough for him to go out and work. Herrera said in a statement, “Tower Car Wash demonstrates a clever but no less illegal way of robbing their employees of wages.”
LAFAYETTE, LA — A new $3 million conveyor carwash, Classic Auto Spa, is scheduled to open here in June, and will be able to wash 180 cars an hour and will have a 160-foot tunnel from Tommy Car Wash Systems,theadvertiser reported.
The April 12 story said the tunnel will be made of windows to offset any feelings of claustrophobia. It will also have outdoor and indoor waiting areas and a separate detailing area.
Owner Mark Veverica has a 30-year lease for the 1.6-acre property.
A 750-gallon tank will collect and treat a lot of the water used. Veverica said in the story, "We can't reclaim all of the water, as it would be cost prohibitive, and in Louisiana, it's not an issue like it is in other states that get far less rainfall.”
CHARLESTON, WV — A woman here is suing a carwash for chemical burns and injuries after purchasing an air freshener service for her car, The Record reported.
The May 27 story said the plaintiff is suing for compensatory and punitive damages after she took her car to the Mountaineer Pride Car Wash in late April. There, she was encouraged by an employee to have air freshener sprayed inside the vehicle, and she agreed to purchase the service.
The plaintiff noticed a strong chemical odor in her car after the wash but thought it would soon dissipate. She drove home with her windows down in an attempt to air out the vehicle, but by the time she arrived home she could barely breathe and had difficulty walking, the story said.
After the drive home, the plaintiff claims she began vomiting violently and experienced disorientation and confusion. She was taken to the emergency room and was diagnosed with a chemical burn to her mouth, throat and lungs, according to the story.
The plaintiff said she did not enter the car again until over two weeks later, and she still had to get out of the vehicle after just a few minutes when she once again had difficulty breathing, felt faint and became ill. That day she was diagnosed as having respiratory irritation from exposure to chemical fumes, the story said.
She is claiming in the suit that the carwash sprayed chemical into the car instead of air freshener, and she finally had to rent a car to use while her car was repaired, according to the story.
NEW HOLLAND, PA — A woman here was caught lying about damage that was done to her car by a carwash machine at Yoder’s Fuel Island, according to a cbs 21 report.
The May 16 story said Lisa Benner claimed on April 24 that her 2003 Ford Windstar was damaged and called the police and filed a police report. In the report, Benner also claimed that the carwash acknowledged that it was responsible for the damage.
However, video surveillance showed otherwise. Footage shows Benner hitting a payment box prior to entering the carwash bay.
Now, charges of False Reports to Law Enforcement Authorities have been filed against Benner.
Chad Cornell of Crystal Clean Automotive Detailing LLC.
Author: Debra Gorgos, Editor
In choosing the 2011 Most Valuable Carwasher (MVC), a few things stood out with the winner’s nomination form, which was submitted by Kevin Gavigan, who works with him at Crystal Clean Automotive Detailing in Grand Rapids, MI. First off, he’s willing to take on any task, whether or not it’s part of his job description. Secondly, he works hard behind the scenes to make sure the business runs smoothly and does this because he genuinely wants the business to succeed as a whole. And, thirdly, he juggles a lot of responsibilities — often all at once — and yet, other employees feel that they can still go to him with questions or concerns. When one looks up the word “teammate” in the dictionary, next to it should be a picture of Chad Cornell.
According to Gavigan’s nomination form, “Chad’s commitment to Crystal Clean is evident as he begins his workday at 3 a.m., five days a week, to ensure that the workload gets moving in the proper direction every day. …The time and effort he puts into each and every workday is astounding as he even takes on tasks that are not under his realm of responsibility to ensure that everything is done properly, on time, and up to our quality standards.”
How it all began
In 1996, Cornell got his first job in the industry at the Grand Rapids-based Cascade Car Wash. General Manager Roger Buys had been in the carwash industry for 20 years and showed him how to make a career out of cleaning cars. “And,” he said, “I still apply that attention to detail, work ethic, and customer focus that I learned from Roger.”
Cornell learned how to detail by working on cars in a tent that Buys put up behind the carwash. He would work on cars before and after his carwash shifts.
What it takes to be MVC
Cornell said to be successful it takes an extreme work ethic, and by extreme he means that if your competition opens for business at 7 a.m., you should open at 5 a.m.
“I also believe strongly that you lead from the front,” Cornell said. “I am willing to work any position in the shop, I will clean the bathrooms if it needs to be done; I am the boss by title only, I never ask my guys to do anything I am not willing or able to do myself, and no one will work a longer shift than me. If I ask them to work an 11-hour day, I will work 12.”
Cornell said he is also blessed to have an owner, Ross Timyan, supplying him with the best products, newest machines, and a 40,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility that sees an average of 50 full high-end details a day, which equals about 200 man hours of labor per day. They also pick up and deliver cars to over 30 dealerships in the middle of the night. All of those cars mean that Cornell sometimes works 20 hours a day. And, that also means his days can sometimes start at around 3 a.m. Yet, it doesn’t bother him one bit.
“Maybe the main reason I work so much, is because after all these years, I still love to detail cars,” he said. “I love transforming something from old to new everyday. It never gets old.”
Getting the job done right
Upon hearing he was named MVC, Cornell said it was a huge honor, but then accepted the accolade with a lot of modesty.
“To be honest,” he said, “sometimes I don’t handle all of the responsibilities well every time. The people that work in this industry know that a lot of the time this business is organized chaos, with multiple deadlines, special requests, and let’s not forget that we all work on an item that is different every time. And, sometimes I am just flying by the seat of my pants making quick decisions.”
But, he once again credits his staff with helping him to get through it.
“It is a lot of teamwork, no one person alone could make this flow everyday, it is and always will be a team effort here,” said Cornell. “Without each and every one of them I would not be in this position.”