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Governor Cuomo signs legislation to protect Nail Salon Workers

ULI Grad Narbada Chhetri Leads Nail Salon Safety Coalition to Victory

In a move applauded by worker rights groups, Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed into law two bills that will address rampant wage and safety violations that plague New York's nail salon industry. The New York Healthy Nail Salons Coalition has called the legislation a "major stepping stone for industry-wide transformation to be led by workers". 

Narbada Chhetri, Director of Organizing and Advocacy at Adhikaar, played a leading role in advocating for the legislation along with others in Coalition. Chhetri's participation in the Union Leadership Institute (ULI) in 2012 helped her develop the skills to secure this important win for nail salon workers.

The new legislation will create a "trainee" designation for currently unlicensed workers, ensuring that they can access a one year apprenticeship program that will provide training on health and safety. It also allows the state to shut down salons that repeatedly evade health and safety inspections by operating without a license.

“The trainee program brings vulnerable workers, including unlicensed, undocumented, and illiterate workers, out of the shadows and fear.  Adhikaar members feel empowered by the recognition of their rights and are excited to work as a trainee while preparing for the licensing exam. We look forward to continue organizing to build leadership of nail salon workers and lift up their voices,” said Narbada Chhetri.

To learn more about this important legislation to advance the rights of nail salon workers, please visit the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) website.

The New York Healthy Nail Salons Coalition formed in 2014 to ensure that all nail salon workers are justly compensated and able to work in safe and healthy environments. Members of the New York Healthy Nail Salons Coalition include: Adhikaar, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, National Employment Law Project, New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, Planned Parenthood of New York City, and Workers’ United New York/New Jersey Joint Board (SEIU).

The New York State AFL-CIO/Cornell Union Leadership Institute is an intensive, one-year leadership development training and education program for current and emerging union and alt. labor leaders and experienced staff. Institute participants share ideas and common concerns, acquire new tools, sharpen skills, and connect with other New York labor leaders from across the New York State. The purpose of the Union Leadership Institute (ULI) is to develop effective, knowledgeable, and strategic-minded leaders who will carry out their responsibilities guided by clear ethical standards, and transcendent labor values such as fairness, dignity, equality, safety, and health.  The Institute prepares leaders to think and act boldly to strengthen the ability of the labor movement to achieve economic and social justice for all working people.