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Carwashes violating the law

A worker at Blue Wave Car Wash in West Los Angeles washes a vehicle. A Times investigation has found that hand carwashes, automotive beauty shops patronized by tens of thousands of Southern California motorists every day, often brazenly violate basic labor and immigration laws, with little risk of penalty. (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)
A Blue Wave worker gets the suds going. Half or more of carwash owners flout the minimum-wage law, estimated the longtime lead investigator for low-wage industries at California’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)
Aston Ling, inspector and senior safety engineer with the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, examines a lunchroom/utility room at Blue Wave Car Wash, where he found several infractions. From Santa Monica to Westwood to Koreatown, many carwash workers said they received only tips for some or all of their shifts. (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)
To survive, carwasheros often pool resources, cramming into cheap one-room apartments, sometimes sleeping side-by-side on the floor. Guadalupe Lima, rear, and his friend share a small studio with two other friends in the Pico-Union district of Los Angeles. Lima sleeps on the floor and is up by 5 every morning to get to work. (Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times)
Guadalupe Lima gets his “bed” ready in the small studio apartment he shares with three friends. Paid workers at some of Southern California’s carwashes said they earned as little as $1.63 an hour. The minimum wage rose to $8 an hour in January. (Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times)