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U.S. car washes get increased media attention

by Matt DeWolf | Sep 21, 2012

Over the past few weeks, we have been monitoring an increase in media attention toward worker conditions and hour and wage compliance in the U.S. car wash industry. Initiatives similar to the one led by the AFL-CIO in California have been recently replicated in New York City and Chicago.

The purpose for this message is to share with you how the International Carwash Association has responded to these efforts and how car wash owners can best protect themselves and their businesses.

First, ICA’s position is that every business should be compliant with labor and safety rules. We have regularly provided education and resources to the industry on this topic.

Unfortunately, in nearly every instance, the violations cited in the media or by worker rights organizations have occurred at businesses that are not “professional” by most definitions and not members of our or other car wash associations. Regardless, these incidents can unfairly tarnish the entire industry.

We believe that the appropriate response to these situations is through education and enforcement, and not the implementation of new rules or requirements that place undue burdens on those businesses that are in compliance. In fact, most professional car washes go well beyond the minimum legal requirements and provide an enriching, meaningful and respectful work environment for thousands of employees.

Our focus is on protecting these businesses – including your business – from being “lumped in” with those who damage our reputation as valuable contributors to our communities.

When responding to media or consumer inquiries, we emphasize the above points. To help protect your reputation, we’d like to also offer the following suggestions:

  1. Review current labor and workplace safety regulations to ensure compliance and consider seeking the support of expert consultants for assistance.
  2. Be prepared to explain to media or customers how your company treats its workers, including the areas of education, training and compensation and benefits.
  3. Educate your employees about applicable laws and standards and how your company is committed not only to compliance but also the principles of respect, dignity and fair treatment.

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration and the U.S. Department of Labor, in addition to state and local governments, have information available that can help you understand minimum requirements and best practices.

For additional assistance, please feel free to contact our office at +1 888.422-8422 or

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