FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, July 16, 2015
Mónica Novoa, NYCOSH
Alison Park, Workers United
Nail Salon Workers and Advocates Applaud New Legislation As Major Stepping Stone for Industry-Wide Transformation to be Led by Workers
New York, NY— The New York Healthy Nail Salons Coalition applauded legislation signed into law today by governor Cuomo. Bills A. 7630A / S. 05966, create an opportunity for steady and fair employment for people working in an estimated 3,000 nail salons in the State through 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 ensures that trainees have access to proper training, including on safety and preventing infection; and allows the state to shut down salons that repeatedly flout the law and evade health and safety inspections by operating without a license.
The Coalition applauded Governor Cuomo for his announcement of a multiagency Taskforce that will work to end worker exploitation across industries. “We believe that the health and economic well-being of all workers must be protected. Our families, communities and the State of New York will greatly benefit from protecting all workers. We must align our work with our highest values.”
In the coming days, The Coalition will ensure the public is aware of the new legislation and according to an online statement, it will continue to push for additional changes to the industry, which will include:
- Supporting worker organizing so that workers stand up for their rights and against bad actors and live and work free from the threat of retaliation.
- Supporting efforts to ensure that businesses understand and follow new laws and regulations including the upcoming health and safety regulations on proper ventilation.
- Supporting efforts to educate consumers about how to identify and frequent salons that pay living wages and maintain healthy workplaces.
- Improving the ability of workers to recover stolen wages through Secure Wages Against Theft legislation, which would hold the largest shareholders personally liable for wage theft, placing a lien on criminal businesses that steal from workers – business assets will be held before owners can dodge responsibility.
- Ensuring workers are correctly classified as employees and not misclassified as independent contractors
“I hope more workers come out of the shadows—particularly undocumented workers like me,” said Marta, a nail salon worker who was recently fired by her Long Island employer for not having a license. “Stronger laws and enforcement to prevent retaliation, to recover stolen wages and tips, and to treat all workers as employees will only help us do so.”
“The trainee program brings vulnerable workers, including unlicensed, undocumented, and illiterate workers, out of the shadows and fear. Adhikaar members feel empowered by the recognition of their rights and are excited to work as a trainee while preparing for the licensing exam. We look forward to continue organizing to build leadership of nail salon workers and lift up their voices,” said Narbada Chhetri, Director of Organizing & Advocacy at Adhikaar.
“We thank Governor Cuomo for making this legislation a reality, which will greatly increase workers’ ability to work in a safe and healthy environment,” said Charlene Obernauer, co-founder of the New York Healthy Nail Salons Coalition and executive director of NYCOSH.
“This law will provide real and immediate benefits to some of New York State’s most vulnerable and often exploited workers,” said Rachel Spector, Staff Attorney with New York Lawyers for the Public Interest. “By enabling nail salon workers to register as trainees, this law ensures that these workers no longer have to live in the shadows, and can better enforce their rights to be paid according to the law and enjoy a safe and healthy workplace. ”
“Planned Parenthood of New York City applauds New York legislators and Governor Cuomo for passing this legislation, which will make nail salons safer and healthier for workers and customers,” said Joan Malin, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of New York City. “All New Yorkers deserve to be treated fairly and work without risking their health or the health of their family, and this legislation is an essential step toward achieving this.”
“The new law helps create a path for nail salon workers to gain some of the protections that come with being licensed,” said Julie Kelly, Manager/ International Vice President of Workers United NY/NJ Regional Joint Board. “Passing additional bills like A.825, A.526, and A.5501 will be critical in making this law more meaningful, and further protect the health, safety, and livelihood of tens of thousands of workers across the Empire State.”
“NAPAWF applauds Gov. Cuomo for enacting legislation that will increase safety and labor protections for thousands of workers in New York nail salons–many of them Asian immigrant women,” said National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum Executive Director Miriam Yeung. “We look forward to working with the Governor and the legislature to build on today’s victory to rid the nail industry of toxic products, crack down on employee misclassification, and create programs that encourage high-road labor and safety practices.”
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, National Employment Law Project, 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).