On Monday, May 18th, AAFE joined with nail salon owners, business leaders, and other advocacy groups from across New York City to launch the Healthy Nail Salon Network. The network was formed after a damning New York Times report uncovered the widespread exploitation of nail salon workers, some of whom experience serious health problems linked to the chemicals they work with regularly. The group’s mission is to work with government agencies and policy makers to clean up the industry by promoting inter-community growth, advancing the best policies to protect owners and workers, and identifying bad players and pushing them to comply with regulations.
AAFE’s Executive Director, Chris Kui, spoke out in support of the network: “AAFE has worked closely with immigrant communities for over 40 years. We are committed to working with City and State agencies as well as our elected officials to provide in-depth language sensitive training and education to workers to ensure their rights and to owners of their legal responsibilities so that immigrant-run businesses can continue to thrive in New York City. AAFE is also committed to working with the State in exploring more efficient and fair ways to certify nail technicians, preventing immigrant workers from further exploitation,” he said.
Assemblyman Ron Kim, whose parents once operated nail salons in Manhattan, noted the need for business owners and consumers to change their behavior: “I believe we need go beyond the punitive sanctions against these community-based small businesses in order to actually address the core problems behind these stores,” he said. “We need to educate the owners and workers of their rights and we need the consumers to accept the higher pricing points of an average manicure and pedicure in this state. The business leaders in our community has stepped up to these challenges and are willing to find ways to transform the nail salon industry so everyone, from customer to manicurist, can co-exist in a safe and fair environment.”