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New York City is making good on its promise to come to the swift aid of disparaged nail salon workers. Following the lead of Governor Cuomo, hundreds of volunteers (many of them city employees) have been hitting the streets today hoping to educate salon employees of their rights, the New York Times reports. Along with passing out flyers in several different languages in neighborhoods like Flushing, the volunteers had the ambitious goal of visiting up to 1,000 salons today to directly reach employees.
Dubbed the Nail Salon Day of Action, volunteers ranging from Julie Menin, the commissioner of the Department of Consumer Affairs, to Dahime Asencios, a 45-year-old Peruvian immigrant who works at a midtown nail salon, are looking to reach out to workers regarding wages, paid sick leave, and minimizing the risk of exposure to hazardous chemicals, the paper wrote.
"During the 14 years I've worked in the industry, the city has never come to see how we are doing, how things are going in the salon," Asencios said. "No inspections. Nothing. Nothing. I'm completely unprotected."
Their morning work at street corners and subways stops where manicurists typically congregate on their way to work was followed by afternoons visiting salons and speaking to business owners about their policies. "We are not looking to be punitive," Menin told the paper, explaining the city's approach today. "This is meant as really a business education canvass." One Financial District salon owner, the paper reported, was surprised to learn about mandatory paid sick leave.
Menin was unable to think of another occasion that prompted the city to launch such an aggressive door-to-door campaign like this. "Obviously, there is an endemic problem," she said.