Justice for Nail Salon Workers


Across the country, countless workers in the nail salon industry, mainly immigrant women, toil in misery and ill health for meager pay, usually with no overtime, abused by employers who show little or no consideration for their safety and well-being. It is a world of long days and toxic chemicals, where the usual protections of government have failed, at all levels.

In shining a light on one ugly industry, a recent report in The Times has also illuminated a far larger problem that occurs wherever greedy employers meet vulnerable workers. Farm laborers, nannies, carwash workers, day laborers, dishwashers, busboys, construction workers, garment workers, janitors — it’s a sweatshop economy, and Americans have gotten used to its bounty of cheap services and goods, basking in ever-cheaper luxury while ignoring the pain and injustice that make it all possible.

What to do? The problem seems overwhelming. The answer is not boycotts or scattershot raids or customers guiltily slipping a little more cash to their manicurists. Cultivating justice in the world of low-wage immigrant labor is going to take concerted attention and serious effort at all levels of government, along with increased support for, and greater involvement by, the workers themselves.

Read the entire editorial here: