LOS ANGELES -- The carwashes of Los Angeles would appear to be an unlikely target for a unionization drive.
Many of the estimated 10,000 workers in the business here are illegal immigrants, who are too scared to speak out or give their bosses any excuse to fire them. Many carwash companies have just two or three outlets, not 20 or 30, requiring scores of separate organizing efforts. And carwash owners, who invest a million dollars or more in each facility, are fiercely resisting the prospect of being tied down by collective bargaining and union rules.
Nonetheless, labor organizers have set out to unionize this city's carwash workers, hoping to improve their paltry pay and end widespread abuses.