Nail salon owners protest in New York
Hundreds of Chinese in New York’s nail salon industry rallied in front of The New York Times building on Tuesday, protesting state legislation requiring nail salon owners to purchase wage bonds and denouncing articles in the newspaper that led to new regulations for salons.
Tuesday was the last day to purchase the wage bond or the owners faced significant fines. The bond is a form of insurance to cover claims for unpaid wages of nail salon workers. Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered the insurance on Aug 10 after the Times reported in May that the nail salon industry is rife with worker abuse, including frequent theft of wages.
“Mom-pop stores. Owners are workers,” the demonstrators shouted in English. Most of the protesters wore white T-shirts on which was printed “No Wage Bond. Stop Squeezing Small Business!”
In interviews with
a reporter from China Daily USA, demonstrators said in Chinese that the insurance bond would hurt their businesses.
“We are mom- and- pop shops, and the nail business slows down during the winter. The wage bond will kill our shops,” said Hong Bin, one of the organizers and the owner of the Chloe Salon in Brooklyn. “Workers can just go file claims and get money from us.”
“Most of the Chinese nail salon owners in New York are here,” said Hong. “Some even came from upstate.”
When asked if she owned a salon, Lina Li said: “Today I do. But I don’t know about tomorrow.”
“One of my 2,000-squarefoot shops now only has three workers. I’m paying $13,000 for rent,” said Zhong Mei, who said she owns three Manhattan nail salons. “Because of the crackdowns, some workers are afraid to work in salons.’’
Many of the protesters held signs criticizing the Times’ expose of the salon industry.
“Apology Now! Fire Nir!’’ read one sign; another read, “NYT Please Don’t Lie!’’
In response to the protesters, a Times spokesperson said that the newspaper “is extremely proud of Sarah Nir’s two- part series on labor abuses and dangerous working conditions in New York City’s nail salons’’.
The Korean American Nail Salon Association of New York and the Chinese Nail Salon Association of East America have filed a lawsuit against Cuomo and the state of New York to block the wage bond requirement.
Hundreds of Chinese in New York’s nail salon industry rally in front of The New York Times building on Tuesday to protest state legislation requiring nail salon owners to purchase insurance to protect workers from wage theft.