Ron Kim, the New York State Assembly member, and representatives of the Korean American Association of Greater New York held a press conference to announce that they will form an emergency committee to prepare a response to the state government’s regulations covering certain industries such as the nail industry and the dry cleaning industry. The Korean representatives also said at the press conference: “The state government is definitely targeting particular businesses in which Koreans are heavily engaged. They regulated the dry cleaning industry right after imposing regulations on the nail industry.”
On July 20, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that he signed an executive order to make the Exploited Workers Task Force permanent and discussed a plan to investigate the work environments in some industries, so as to eliminate worker exploitation and ensure fair wage payment.
Kim said: “The state’s crackdown on nail salons and dry cleaners is deepening the concerns of Korean business owners. If we do not take a proper counteraction, more regulations may restrict other important businesses of Korean people. We need to use our voice and deliver our opinion to the state government.
Also, rather than conducting crackdowns, the state government should allow a grace period or come up with other measures such as educating the owners and employees so they can learn how to prosper together. Small business owners cannot survive if the government keeps enforcing regulations and punishing them.”
Many Korean-American organizations were present at the press conference:
Minsun Kim and Eric B. Lee of the Korean American Association of Greater New York; JongMyeong Lee, president of the Council of Korean Churches of Greater NY; YongChul Moon, president of the Korean American Association of Long Island NY; YongChul Kim, former president of the Korean Apparel Manufacturers Association of Greater New York; YunHwang Kim, former president of the Korean American Association of Queens.
Minsun Kim, president of the Korean American Association of Greater New York, said: “New York State’s decision to regulate those industries will devastate small businesses (…) We need to prepare a countermeasure for Koreans and other Asians not to be disadvantaged. I will get in touch with politicians in the state and ask [them] to voice opposition to the crackdowns conducted against the minority groups.”
“The estimated expense for a dry cleaner to replace existing laundry machines is more than $100,000 and the owners need time to prepare for them. The regulation says that there is a grace period until 2020 and they should not pressure [by conducting crackdowns] the business owners,” she added about the recent plans announced by the state government to ban Perc (Perchloroethylene) use in dry cleaners.
SangSeok Park, president of the Korean Dry Cleaners Association of NY, who was not present at the press briefing on July 25, said in a phone call with The Korea Times: “I will meet Ron Kim [and other representatives] to ask for financial support from the state government that we need to substitute new [laundry] machines [for old ones]. Internally, our association is reacting with equanimity to the current situation. I didn’t go to the press briefing because I didn’t want to blow things out of proportion.”