Flushing car wash workers oust union officials from workplace

Elected leaders such as state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky backed workers at the Jomar Car Wash in Flushing to unionize. Now those workers have rejected union officials after a three-year effort. (QNS file photo)

For much of the past decade, the “Carwasheroes” of Queens became a cause célèbre for state, city and local officials siding with workers for fair pay and workplace safety commitments from car wash owners.

Workers at the Jomar Car Wash in Flushing, now known as Main Street Car Wash, reached a deal to unionize in 2013 under the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) but have since reversed course.

With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, employees at Main Street Car Wash have successfully forced RWDSU union officials out of their workplace.

Last month, Main Street Car Wash employee Ervin Par submitted a petition signed by enough of his coworkers to prompt the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to conduct an employee vote on whether to oust the union.

The NLRB is the federal agency responsible for enforcing private-sector labor law and for adjudicating disputes between employers, unions and individual workers. This marks the second time Par has led his coworkers in attempting to oust RWDSU officials after he sought National Right to Work Foundation legal aid in 2018 with an earlier petition for a union decertification vote.

“They just come and collect their fees, but I don’t see an economic benefit from the union,” Par said at the time. “Among my colleagues, there’s a majority that doesn’t want the union.”

He added that because New York is a state lacking in Right to Work protections for its private-sector workers, Par and his coworkers were forced to pay just to keep their jobs. In Right to Work states, all union financial support is strictly voluntary.

Union officials were able to stifle that employee request by filing so-called “blocking charges” at the NLRB.

This time, RWDSU leaders avoided facing an employee vote by submitting paperwork disclaiming interest in continuing control over the facility last week, thus avoiding an NLRB-administered decertification vote, according to the National Right to Work Foundation.

QNS reached out to the RWDSU and is awaiting a response.

“Mr. Par and his coworkers persevered for almost three years to end RWDSU union officials’ grip on power in their workplace,” National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix said. “Although we’re glad the employees have finally been able to exercise their right to remove RWDSU from their workplace, union officials never should have been able to manipulate the rules to stifle the decertification effort for so long.”