A New York Times exposé by Sarah Maslin Nir about the exploitation of nail salon workers has caught the attention of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who announced he's putting emergency measures into place to go after wage theft and health hazards in the industry, the AP reports. In a statement cited by the Times, Cuomo said he's setting up a task force, effective immediately, to check salons individually, come up with mandates to protect workers from possibly dangerous chemicals wafting around their salons, and conduct a six-language educational campaign to let workers know this kind of debasement isn't OK. "We will not stand idly by as workers are deprived of their hard-earned wages and robbed of their most basic rights," Cuomo said in the statement.
Several government agencies, including the Health Department, were spurred into action last week after the two-part Times article ran. Rules going into effect ASAP include publicly posted signage (in different languages) in salons listing workers' rights, a requirement that manicurists wear gloves and masks, and a mandate that all salons are bonded so employees can recoup wages if it's found they've been denied rightful earnings, per the Times. Cuomo's office says the task force agencies won't probe workers' immigration status. Creating the emergency plan allowed Cuomo to skirt red tape. "The article highlighted a significant problem in New York State," the governor's general counsel tells the Times. “We cannot wait to address the problem." (What could help protect workers: more "green" salons.)