Joining a union has immensely benefited their lives, say the three “carwasheros” – unionized Spanish-speaking workers at New York car washes -- who met Pope Francis I during his U.S. visit.
Patricio Santiago, Refugio Denecia and Jose Reynaldo Sanchez were among 150 workers who met with the Pontiff at Our Lady Queen of Angels school in East Harlem, their union, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Workers, reported. Day laborers and migrant farm workers who toil in New York’s Hudson Valley were also among the group.
“The invitation for these RWDSU members to meet with the Pope serves as a message to all people in this country that every worker, regardless of what they do or where they came from, is entitled to be treated with dignity and respect,” union President Stuart Appelbaum said.
The carwasheros as a group picked Sanchez, a shop steward, Santiago and Denecia to meet with Francis, after Catholic Charities learned the Pope wanted to take time from his speeches to dignitaries in New York and D.C. to talk with workers and immigrants.