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Cuomo Announces Exploited Worker Task Force

(AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced a task force that will investigate worker exploitation in businesses across the state, especially businesses that employ a lot of immigrants. Cuomo made the announcement in the Bronx on Thursday, where he signed a law that will protect nail salon workers from exploitation.

"The issue was brought to our attention with the nail salon workers, and we focused on the nail salon workers," he said. "I'm gonna sign a bill for the nail salon workers, but it's not just nail salon workers. If you want to open your eyes and be honest, it's everywhere in this economy."

Cuomo said the task force will crack down on businesses that exploit documented and undocumented workers. Cuomo said many people who work for exploitative employers are undocumented.

Undocumented workers are often afraid of being deported if they speak out against their working conditions. But it's illegal for employers to threaten to fire or deport workers who complain about their working conditions. A representative from Cuomo's office says the new task force will fine employers who do that.

Cuomo's office says the task force will focus on businesses with high rates of deadly accidents, and businesses with a reputation for hiring immigrants off the books. The task force is made up of 700 people from several agencies, including the Department of Labor, as well as state police.  In addition to nail salons, it will investigate businesses like restaurants, laundromats, car washes, and farms. 

Kathie is a former editor at WSHU.