Crain’s New York Business (May 25) reports that a bill making its way through the New York City city council would require car washes with 20 or more employees to post a $300,000 surety bond per location, which is similar to the bond requirement California operators have had to comply with for several years now. The bill would also subject owners to regulations, the publication says, that measure their "character," enquiries that, in the past, were limited to industries with a history of organized-crime involvement.

The proposed additional regulations represent continued fallout from a 2008 New York State investigation that found that more than 78 percent of car washes in New York City were in violation of minimum wage and overtime laws. Statewide, underpayments with regard to 1,380 workers amounted to $6.5 million. Affected car wash owners ended up paying millions in fines.

According to Crain’s, critics of the bill contend that the goal is not just to further regulate the car wash industry, but to unionize it. They point out that the nonprofit group that largely wrote the bill, Make the Road New York, is closely aligned with organized labor. They feel particularly aggrieved that tax dollars may be used for this purpose as the organization gets a substantial portion of its funding from city, state, and federal sources (roughly 27 percent in 2012 — the latest figures available).

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