After the New York Times “Unvarnished” series made an entire city of women rightfully ashamed about all the times they’ve ever gotten their nails done, Governor Andrew Cuomo has come in big with an order for emergency measures to regulate and improve the appalling working conditions that have become standard for many of the majority-female, majority-immigrant workers who staff New York’s nail salons—of which there are nearly 2,000 in New York City alone.

Via the Times:

Effective immediately, he said in a statement, a new, multiagency task force will conduct salon-by-salon investigations, institute new rules that salons must follow to protect manicurists from the potentially dangerous chemicals found in nail products, and begin a six-language education campaign to inform them of their rights. Nail salons that do not comply with orders to pay workers back wages, or are unlicensed, will be shut down.

Salon workers will also be required to wear gloves and masks to protect them from the chemical saturation of their profession—in the second installment of “Unvarnished,” there’s one woman whose fingerprints have been eroded smooth—although, as the Times notes, masks are mostly for show. Proper ventilation will be a part of the mandatory checklist, and:

Salons will be required to publicly post signs that inform workers of their rights, including the fact that it is illegal to work without wages or to pay money for a job — a common practice in the nail salon industry, according to workers and owners. The signs will be in half a dozen languages, including those most spoken in the industry — Korean, Chinese and Spanish.

The governor’s office stated that the agencies involved in the Enforcement Task Force “do not inquire about workers’ immigration status as part of their investigations.” The Times also cites a new education campaign, rolled out through community groups, that will inform salon workers that they have wage rights no matter their immigration status.

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The emergency measures, announced on Sunday, “will become permanent in the coming months.” More about this at the Times.

Image via AP


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