By Post Editorial Board View author archive
June 13, 2015 | 8:00pm
Photo: Allison Joyce
The City Council just took its first step toward outlawing all non-union businesses.
Well, OK — it still has a long way to go. But a bill council members passed Wednesday is so patently aimed at killing off car washes that aren’t unionized, you wonder why they didn’t just ban them outright.
And how much longer before they ban all non-union businesses altogether.
Under the bill, which Mayor de Blasio backs, non-union car washes must post bonds of $150,000.
Unionized shops get a break: They’d have to post bonds of only $30,000, a far more manageable sum.
Bottom line: Any car wash that lacks a collective-bargaining agreement (i.e., a union arrangement) will have to get one quick, jump through hoops to get the pricier bond — or close.
“It’s a power play by the unions,” says owner Martin Taub. Labor bosses’ three-year effort to organize car-wash workers failed. Now they’re getting their City Hall shills to do their job for them. Another owner, Steve Rotlevi, calls the bill “legislative extortion.”
Yes, some car-wash owners have tried to bilk workers — many, immigrants — by paying less than minimum-wage rates or swiping tips. But there are ways to deal with that: For example, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has forced one large operator, John Loge, to pay millions in fines and back wages.
The bill’s backers claim the “wage theft” issue explains the gap between the bonds required of union and non-union shops. Unions protect workers from wage theft, they insist, so larger bonds aren’t needed.
Problem is, car-washing is a lean business. Lots of shops can’t afford either the big bond, or union pay.
So the council’s de facto bid to force unionization is more likely to kill these jobs — often among the few open to those with few skills.
Taub said he’d have to let go all but two of his roughly 25 workers if the bill becomes law. Other shops may also lay off staff, raise prices or close.
Everyone suffers — but the union bosses.
Some way to run a city.