FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, June 15, 2015
Mónica Novoa, NYCOSH
Final Week of New York Legislative Session Sees Countdown for Nail Salon Workers
NY Healthy Nail Salons Coalition Calls on Legislature to Pass Emergency Reform to Protect Workers and Prove to Consumers that Conditions are Improving
New York, NY— On the heels of Governor Cuomo’s regulations package aimed at curbing worker exploitation and abuse within the nail salon industry, the New York Healthy Nail Salons Coalition (HNSC), composed of labor, community, and public health organizations, is pushing the legislature to pass bills A. 7630A / S. 05966. The bills being considered in this last week of the legislative session will create an opportunity for steady and fair employment through establishing training and licensing program for people working nail salons.
“Nail salon owners use licensing to control workers, wielding them as weapon to steal wages and force long working hours without proper pay,” said Luna Ranjit, Executive Director of Adhikaar and co-founder of the New York Healthy Nail Salons Coalition. “The trainee program will enable unlicensed nail salon workers to come out of the shadows by empowering them to carry their own licenses, and protect them from exploitation by abusive owners. Nail salon workers and customers can’t wait another day for change.”
Tens of thousands of nail salon workers—mostly Latina and Asian immigrant women—throughout New York are exposed to dangerous health hazards on the job and earn as little as $35 per day; cases of wage theft are all too common. Currently, those workers unable to pay for training to obtain a license or meet many beauty schools’ requirements are most at risk of exploitation by unscrupulous salon owners. A. 7630A / S. 05966 creates a path to full licensure for currently unlicensed workers by creating a “trainee” designation for currently unlicensed workers, and the opportunity for trainees who complete one year of apprenticeship training to become fully licensed.
The legislation will ensure that trainees have access to proper training, including on safety and preventing infection; and will allow the state to shut down salons that repeatedly flout the law and evade health and safety inspections by operating without a license.
“Nail salons will ultimately be safer, healthier places for consumers and workers as a result of this legislation; and will increase consumer confidence in the industry. The Governor and the general public understand the urgency of improving nail salons in New York State; it is time for the legislature to act boldly and work to improve this industry,” said Charlene Obernauer, co-founder of the New York Healthy Nail Salons Coalition and Executive Director of NYCOSH.
“This legislation is a crucial step toward fair working conditions and meaningful health and safety protections in nail salons. Nail salon workers and consumers in New York expect industry reform, and the legislature should act now to protect vulnerable workers and public health,” said Rachel Spector, staff attorney at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest.
“Planned Parenthood of New York City supports efforts to make nail salons safer and healthier for workers and customers. A steadily growing body of research indicates that toxic chemicals found in nail salons may negatively affect a person’s reproductive health,” said Joan Malin, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of New York City. “All New Yorkers deserve to work without risking their health or the health of their family.”
“This critical legislation removes barriers to obtaining licenses for thousands of nail salon workers in New York, many of whom are Asian immigrant women. This bill will also help protect workers who experience wage theft and ensure fair working conditions. We urge New York legislators to seize the opportunity to make nail salons safer for both workers and consumers, and pass A. 7630A / S. 05966. ” said Miriam Yeung, Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum.
“This legislation is a meaningful step in protecting marginalized immigrant workers’ rights, safety and dignity in the nail salon industry. We call on the New York State legislators to pass this bill, and look forward to working with others in ensuring that we have long-term, multi-pronged, comprehensive strategies that both protect vulnerable, immigrant workers and support struggling, immigrant small-business owners,” said Grace Shim, Executive Director of the MinKwon Center for Community Action.
Governor Cuomo’s Multi-Agency Task Force and regulations, combined with this piece of legislation, will be another step towards transforming the nail salon industry in New York State.
“The passage of this legislation is a critical step in improving the standards of the nail salon industry. A transparent process will help ensure that workers have access to the training and licensing they need to provide services in a safe environment,” said Julie Kelly, Manager / International Vice President of Workers’ United NY/NJ Regional Joint Board. “In turn, employers need to ensure that workers are paid a living wage and have access to affordable health care.”
The New York Healthy Nail Salons Coalition formed in 2014 to ensure that all nail salon workers are justly compensated and able to work in safe and healthy environments. Members of the New York Healthy Nail Salons Coalition include: Adhikaar, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, Planned Parenthood of New York City, and Workers’ United New York/New Jersey Joint Board (SEIU).