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The Mechanics
« Chicagoans Show Solidarity With Wisconsin Public Sector Workers The Collapse »

Labor & Worker Rights Mon Mar 07 2011

Carwashero Beats Wage Theft at Local Car Wash

By Jacob Lesniewski

Sometimes a potential campaign at Arise Chicago reaches legal obstacles, an evasive employer, or incomplete evidence.

Alfredo and Rev. Marich

And sometimes, it all comes together Hannibal Smith from the A-Team style. Arise Chicago’s latest action to improve conditions of work in the carwash industry on Monday, February 28th was one of those moments when it all came together. Car wash worker Alfredo led a delegation of allies, including IBEW Local 134 member and Arise volunteer Denise Sebo, Ted Sautter and two brothers from the United Steel Workers, two Arise Chicago Worker Center members and staff to Four Seasons Carwash at 5900 W. Addison in Chicago. Alfredo joined the Worker Center because he was owed two weeks’ worth of wages and decided to take action.

After the “A – Team” leafleted and spoke to both workers and customers, the owner came, angrily demanding we move to the sidewalk, attempting to intimidate union allies taking pictures, and attempting to negotiate only with Adam, Worker Center Director. And then he caved, but not before attempting one last hail mary, that was quickly deflected by legal advisory board member Amy Epton and Rev. Claire Marich of Downers Grove, who is rapidly becoming the Mother Jones of carwash workers in Chicago. Rev. Marich states, "The work you do at Arise is so important and I am pleased to be a small part of it. It uses my chaplain skills of reading people in crisis situation, so I am beginning to understand it as a really exciting extension of my ministry." Alfredo says, “Bosses can’t abuse their workers.” He wishes for other workers to overcome fear to act and believes that his experience shows that. ”Si se puede.”

Indeed.

It couldn’t have worked out better. A worker taking action for justice. Religious allies. Worker members of Arise Chicago. Allies from the legal community. Union members.

This is what a movement looks like...

Alfredo joined by supporters at the car wash

- Jacob is an Organizer at Arise Chicago

This post is cross-posted from the Dignity at Work Blog a project of ARISE Worker Center.

 
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