By Louis Chan
AsAmNews National Correspondent
Criticism notwithstanding that he’s being swayed by campaign contributions, New York Assemblyperson Ron Kim is standing behind Asian nail salon owners.
He met with them this week to discuss their concerns that reforms meant to protect workers from wage theft went too far.
A New York Times special report back in May had many in New York and the Asian American community nationwide buzzing.
Times reporter Arah Maslin Nir interviewed 150 mostly immigrant nail salon owners who spoke of wage exploitation, the majority being paid below minimum wage and some being paid as little as 10 dollars a day. Other said they paid a $100 training fee and had to work as long as three months for free until they were deemed good enough to be paid.
Kim stood behind Governor Andrew Cuomo when he signed a bill Kim helped to craft designed to stem some of those abuses. Within a month, Kim changed his tone. He said provisions in that bill requiring salons to buy a bond that would be used to pay workers who filed successful wage theft claims was putting salon owners out of business.
The change in tone came after individual nail salon owners, joined by the Korean American Nail Salon Association and the Chinese Nail Salon Association of East America, contributed tens of thousands of dollars in contributions to Kim’s campaign coffers.
Kim fought back hard against the accusations that those campaign contributions swayed him. He criticized coverage of those contributions in AsAmNews.
— Ron Kim (@RonKim40) November 11, 2015
AsAmNews invited Kim to write a blog about his position, but he did not respond.
“I’m determined to work closely with our small business owners on finding long-term solutions that truly improve conditions for nail salons in New York,” Kim was quoted as saying this week in the Queens Gazette. “I continue to oppose punitive measures and unreachable mandates that will inevitably bankrupt hard-working small businesses throughout the state. Instead, I will work with colleagues and the Governor to focus on real solutions that protect workers and consumers, while empowering family-owned businesses.”
Kim Continues To Support Struggling Nail Salon Owners: Assemblyman Ron Kim met with leaders from the Chinese… https://t.co/dWLbYK0Yjr
— Queens NYC News (@queensnycnews) August 17, 2016