ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — With spring in the air, you may hit up your local nail salon for a fresh manicure or pedicure, but some lawmakers are concerned these businesses aren’t getting enough representation in state government. That’s why they’re pushing for legislation that would empower this workforce.
There are over 6000 nail salons in the state of New York and many of those salons employ documented or undocumented immigrants. Senator Jessica Ramos is sponsoring the nail salon minimum standards council bill. This would create a council of nail salon owners, workers, and state officials to discuss things like wages, workplace safety and more. “We’ve known for a long time that this is work, primarily done by women, women of color, women who end up being subjected to all sorts of toxins and chemicals. They have a dire effect on a woman’s reproductive experience,” said Ramos.
Besides being around harmful toxins, Ramos explained in her communication with the workforce, they admit being subjected to wage theft as well. She said a space for these workers to discuss these issues needs to be made available. “We want to make sure that the government is playing a role in facilitating these conversations. So that not only are we protecting the small businesses, but we are certainly protecting the workers who make it possible,” she said.
Nail salon workers took to the Capitol on Tuesday expressing need for the bill. One worker, who spoke fluent Spanish, took to the podium and had a translator with them. “We don’t eat, we don’t have sick days to take off, and we run the risk of being fired if we take any sick days or if we are sick,” she said. This is the second year advocates are pushing for this legislation.