On Thursday, Sept. 20, ARISE Chicago, an IWJ-affiliated worker center in Chicago launched its Car Wash Worker Justice campaign. ARISE held a public launch in the historical museum of the Jane Addam Hull-House Museum at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In the historical museum, speakers highlighted issues facing the car wash industry in the Chicago area. This public launch comes after the extensive survey done by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Campaign. In their published report debuting at the launch of the Car Wash Worker Justice campaign, the study revealed four critical findings about the state of car wash industry in Chicago.
Results from the study revealed four critical findings:
1. Violations of wage and hour laws are the norm among surveyed car wash workers.
2. Workplace violations result in high costs for cash workers.
3. Car wash workers are living in poverty.
4. Chicago car washes are hazardous to workers' health and lives.
The detailed research emphasized this wage-and-hour violations are the rule, not the exception. According to the report, over three quarters of all surveyed workers earned below the Illinois minimum wage of $8.25. Some of the workers are living in poverty with no health benefits even though workers are exposed to harsh cleaning chemicals and have received on-the-job injuries from their work site.
In a recent news article from the Chicago Tribune, cited Adam Kader, director of ARISE Chicago Worker Center saying, "We won't stand for that kind of treatment, and we're willing to help (employers) change their ways."
We, here at IWJ, are excited for ARISE's launch of their Chicago Car Worker campaign and in delving into the unscrupulous car wash industry unrecognized by numerous people.