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Nail Salon Workers Are Exploited. A New York Bill Could Change That.

New York nail salon workers experience wage theft and extreme poverty but a new bill could put an end to industry malpractice.

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In New York, a greedy industry takes advantage of skilled nail salon workers. The majority immigrant workforce faces low wages, non-existent benefits, erratic schedules, hazardous chemicals, and rampant wage theft.

Adhikaar and other allies have been pushing for years to get stronger protections for nail salon workers. Their movement has won several victories since 2015, when a New York Times report exposed the horrific conditions and widespread wage theft in the industry.

But these reforms haven’t gone far enough. Manicurists say workplace conditions still jeopardize their health. And according to a 2020 survey, 82 percent of nail salon workers experience wage theft. On average stolen wages amounted to $10,000 per year.

State Senator Jessica Ramos wants to put a stop to the long-term exploitation of these workers. New legislation called the Nail Salon Minimum Standards Council Act could deliver a safer workplace and better lives for thousands of NYC nail salon workers who have struggled in the shadows.

The bill could also serve as a model for other industries where workers aren’t able to negotiate with big employers.

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