Updated June 3, 1:38 p.m.
BY ANGELA MATUA
Assemblyman Ron Kim joined Gov. Andrew Cuomo in Manhattan on Friday to launch a consumer awareness campaign to improve conditions in the nail salon industry.
Kim, who represents parts of Flushing, Whitestone and Murray Hill, called for a more educational approach to reforming the industry and proposed a training program to ensure that workers receive minimum wage while learning about their rights.
“I’m proud to join Governor Cuomo in this fight and that’s why I’m sponsoring important legislation to protect New York’s workers,” Kim said. “Together with the governor, the owners and advocates, we can transform the nail salon industry and protect the thousands of workers in our community so they can obtain the proper treatment they rightfully deserve.”
The consumer awareness campaign proposes to teach consumers what to expect when they visit a nail salon. As part of the initiative, pocket cards listing the “Top Five Things to Ask When Entering Nail Salons” are being distributed statewide.
The questions include “Are workers paid at least minimum wage and overtime?”; “Is appropriate protective equipment (respirator, mask, gloves, eye protection) provided to workers and used?”; “Is there adequate ventilation (no strong odors)?”; “Is the salon business license posted in plain view?”; and “Is the Nail Salon Workers’ Bill of Rights posted in plain view?”
Kim joined public officials and owners of local nail salons earlier last month in Flushing to announce the “Healthy Nail Salon Network,” a series of proposals to create a safe working environment for nail salon workers.
Among the proposals that Kim outlined that day, raising prices for manicures and creating a code of conduct for salons were among a few solutions he suggested.
Several politicians including Mayor Bill de Blasio and Public Advocate Letitia James have taken steps to reform the industry on the state and city level. Efforts to reform city nail salons increased after a New York Times article exposed unfair wage and labor practices at many nail salons.
A spokesperson for James’ office noted Wednesday that the public advocate has been working on the issue for more than a year.
“We are calling on New Yorkers to use their power as consumers to patronize nail salons who treat employees fairly, and boycott those unscrupulous businesses who profit by exploiting their workers,” Cuomo said.