We stood with courageous carwasheros on Monday, May 21st as they announced a class action lawsuit against the Domovandi Family (owners of Santa Monica Carwash, Millenium Carwash, and Bubble Bee Carwash). MALDEF is representing the carwash workers to uphold basic labor rights, to seek compensation for overtime pay, unpaid wages, restitution and an injunction against unlawful practices. Pedro, a carwashero from Santa Monica Carwash, explained “up to this day they have still have not paid me my full income. I decided then to take action and participate in this lawsuit because I believe all workers have rights and we deserve a better job where they treat us with dignity.” Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel, said, “Neither law nor moral principle permits any employer to exploit vulnerable people who seek only to support themselves and their families through honest labor.”
Rev. Jim Conn, a retired United Methodist Minister and former Mayor of Santa Monica, reminded us of the importance of the respect of human dignity and the profound way that economic justice teachings echo in all religious traditions. He acknowledged the possibility of threat of intimidation and retaliation against the workers and praised workers for their bravery and courage. He announced that clergy “honor these workers as they stand up today, and we pass on to them bravery and courage for the work they are going to be doing. And we pledge that we will walk with these workers and the working families of Los Angeles struggle for justice.”
Rabbi Amy Bernstein from Keillat Israel in Pacific Palisades explained that our faith traditions lead us to just action. In the Hebrew tradition we are commanded to be עם קדוש a goy kadosh, a holy nation and a people committed to holiness. Rabbi Bernstein explained that, “these commitments are not an attitude, and not a belief… Holiness is a set of demands about right action.” When workers are not paid for their work and are denied their human dignity, we know that we must take action. The Torah proclaims, “for you were strangers in the land of Egypt and therefore do not allow yourself to stand idly by while others…in our country are oppressed.”
Rev. Esau Canales from la Iglesia Familiar in Santa Monica, and Rev. Janet McKeithen from the Church in Ocean Park led a bilingual prayer and blessing of the hands. CLUE leaders sealed our covenant as faith leaders to continue “to not stand idly by” of oppression and take action to stand in solidarity with carwasheros.