Hundreds Volunteer to Educate Nail Salon Workers About Wage and Health Issues

© Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times Julie Menin, commissioner of the city's Consumer Affairs Department, distributed fliers Thursday in Flushing, Queens, to educate nail salon workers about wage and health issues.
© Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times Julie Menin, commissioner of the city’s Consumer Affairs Department, distributed fliers Thursday in Flushing, Queens, to educate nail salon workers about wage and health issues.

Hundreds of volunteers fanned out across New York on Thursday morning as part of an outreach campaign for nail salon workers organized by city officials, with the goal of reaching by day’s end thousands of manicurists and educating them about their rights and how to protect their health. 

The scale of the campaign was ambitious — city officials said they visited over the course of the day more than 1,000 nail salons in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens. The volunteers, as well as city employees, were armed with fliers and packets of information in different languages for manicurists about wages, their right to paid sick leave and how to limit their exposure to potentially harmful chemicals in nail products.

The administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, put together the effort, calling it a “Nail Salon Day of Action,” after an investigation by The New York Times published two weeks ago exposed widespread exploitation of nail salon workers and the serious health problems many of them endured.

The campaign began early at subway stops and on street corners across the city where manicurists congregate before heading out for long days at salons.

In Flushing, Queens, about a half-dozen volunteers, along with Julie Menin, the commissioner of the city’s Consumer Affairs Department, passed out fliers near the Main Street subway stop.

A manicurist, Jenny Guo, 31, sped past the volunteers on her way to be picked up for a salon job about an hour’s drive away in Massapequa, on Long Island, where she said she worked 11-hour days. She had heard nothing about the new rules for nail salons instituted on Monday by the administration of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, such as a requirement that workers wear gloves. But she said she welcomed the changes, particularly those relating to ventilation and safety measures.

“It would be great for every salon worker to wear gloves when they are working,” she said in Chinese. “Many customers have fungus. It usually ends up with us being infected.”

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Source: The New York Times |  SARAH MASLIN NIR

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