On June 28th, 2018, the Despertar Campaign awoke the streets of Harlem with the call for justice for laundry workers. Juana and Nicolas had worked at TYS Laundromat for many years. They endured 12-hour workdays, sub-minimum wages, and poor working conditions.
For a year, Juana and Nicolas fought to have the owners of TYS recognize their rights. They withstood retaliation and threats from reduced schedules to negotiation cancellations. Throughout the struggle, the community stood in support.
On Monday, June 24th, 2019, we sat in court for our first settlement negotiation with the workers against TYS Laundromat. After a few hours, our hard work paid off, and a settlement was reached. TYS has agreed to:
Guarantee 40 hours a week,
- Pay time and a half for overtime hours,
- Install a punch clock to avoid wage theft,
- Pay workers an agreed back wages settlement,
- Sign a confession of judgment that places the laundromat building as a guarantee of payment.
This is a massive victory for laundry workers. Juana and Nicolas are the first laundry workers to organize a coin-operated laundromat in New York City, and they won’t be the last. Across the city, LWC is training with laundromat workers to organize. The Despertar Campaign stands as an example of the power of worker leadership.