It seems some real change might result from two investigative stories published by the New York Times last week on the unsafe and often illegal working conditions in New York nail salons. On Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the creation of a new task force to investigate and put in place new rules for salons, effective immediately.
The original New York Times features, which made their way around the Internet in short order on Thursday and Friday, made public a number of horrifying truths about nail salons, including the fact that most new manicurists are required to pay a training fee of at least $100 but won't begin to receive pay for months after that, which even then is often well below minimum wage. And the health risks of inhaling and touching the chemicals in nail products can, over time, range from coughs and skin rashes to cancer and miscarriages.
In addition to requiring manicurists to wear gloves and face masks, nail salons are now obligated to equip each work station with a personal fan and post signs informing technicians of their rights in multiple languages, per a statement released by the Governor's office. The salons will also have to enter contracts with bonding agencies, to ensure that workers can get paid if the owners have been depriving them of wages. According to the Times, which first reported the news, the measures will become permanent in the next few months.
It's heartening to see Cuomo taking action so quickly on this front, although it seems pretty necessary given how damning the Times's investigation of the exploitation of manicurists was.
This post has been updated to include information from Cuomo's office on the new rules.