City Council Bill to Regulate Car Washes

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Metro Car Wash in Rego Park, Queens (photo by Kate Hinds)

(New York, NY -- Sharyn Jackson, WNYC) New York City City Council members have introduced legislation that would require all car washes register for a license with the Department of Consumer Affairs.

Harlem Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito announced the bill to more than 50 protestors who gathered on the steps of City Hall. She said she was surprised when she learned that car washes didn’t already need licenses.

“This industry, I mean, you're talking about heavy machinery, you're talking about chemicals that are being used, it's not regulated in any way,” she said. “But as a city, we’ve got to step up to the plate, and ensure that they’re doing right by these workers.”

The industry is under fire for allegations of overworking and underpaying employees. According to an investigation by the New York State Department of Labor, almost 80 percent of the city’s car wash owners had wage and hour violations.

“New York City, we love to be stylish here, there's no question,” said Councilman James Sanders, who chaired a council hearing on the bill today. “We love our cars and we love to look good, but we don't want to do it at the expense of anyone.”

But car wash owners have told Transportation Nation they treat their workers fairly and safely.