BY ANGELA MATUA
Nail salon workers in New York have recently received attention from elected officials for experiencing poor working conditions, with Mayor Bill de Blasio being the latest to implement reforms to the industry.
Though the city has limited jurisdiction over labor and wage laws — the State of New York is in charge of licensing and inspecting the 2,000 nail salons in the city — de Blasio set a number of initiatives on Friday to educate workers on their rights and to investigate both the chemicals used in nail products and wage practices in the industry.
The initiatives will be led by the Department of Consumer Affairs with support from the Department of Small Business Services, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence and others.
Public Advocate Letitia James and other elected officials who have worked to combat these conditions will also work with the city on these initiatives.
“Every New Yorker must be protected from predatory workplace practices that threaten their health and exploit their labor,” de Blasio said. “We will use all available powers to shield nail salon workers from deplorable conditions, empower them with awareness of their rights, and offer every other support we can to ensure the safety and dignity of our hardworking fellow New Yorkers.”
The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) will investigate, test products and send subpoenas to companies that make invalid product claims, according to a press release.
The DCA will also investigate employment agencies that place nail salon workers in nail salons to ensure these placements occur in jobs that pay at least minimum wage.
“We cannot stand by while the most vulnerable workers among us are exposed to toxic chemicals and equally toxic conditions of employment,” said DCA Commissioner Julie Menin. “We will harness all the means at our disposal to make sure that salon workers and customers are protected.”
Consumers can also sign a petition here to the Personal Care Products Council, the leading national trade association for the cosmetics industry, to tell them that the “price of beauty shouldn’t be your and your manicurist’s health.”
On Monday, May 18, a letter will be sent to nearly 3,000 nail salons to inform them of their responsibilities under New York’s Paid Sick Leave Law.
Other initiatives include a Day of Action on May 21, where 500 volunteers and city representatives will distribute information about “workers’ rights, the city’s training and job connection programs, employer obligations and business support service, and consumer tips” across the five boroughs.