Is this massage legit?
June 12, 2011 3:32 PM   Subscribe

What kind of living does my Chinese Masseuse make?

Over the past few years I have noticed Chinese Foot Spas (for lack of a better name) pop up all over the place. They typically offer foot massages for about $25/hour, and the therapist often doesn't speak (much) English. I have a secret fear that I'm taking unfair advantage of these people. Is it slave labor? How much percentage do they typically take home from the amount I pay? Do they see a third of that? half? It doesn't seem like enough to live very well on. I can't imagine they actually perform 8 one-hour massages a day, or they'd get serious repetitive strain injury.

Any demystification of this industry would be appreciated.
posted by tacit_urn to Health & Fitness (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Is there tipping at the foot spa you go to?
posted by marimeko at 3:47 PM on June 12, 2011

I have the same fear. I give a $15 tip on a $25 massage and hope it works out to a decent rate.
posted by fingersandtoes at 3:52 PM on June 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Many masseuses aren't making minimum wage, said Terri McLaughlin, a business license investigator for the L.A. County Sheriff's Department who has spent recent months focused on enforcing the state law.

"There's no [workers'] compensation," she said. "There's a whole realm of problems."

McLaughlin said she has tried to explain the law to operators before citing them for violating the code but has found that some of the workers are not aware of their rights.
posted by Comrade_robot at 4:23 PM on June 12, 2011

This is a big problem in every industry dominated by immigrant labor. People come to the U.S. looking for work and not speaking English, and get taken advantage of without even knowing it. Often this exploitation isn't limited to the workplace, and immigrants are paying extortion rates for sub-standard housing as well.

The best thing to do in the short term is to tip well, and then to start looking for labor advocacy groups and immigrants rights groups that work with Chinese populations.

In San Fransisco, it's the Chinese Progressive Organization. If you can't find one in your area, you might ask the CPA if they know any groups.
posted by Jon_Evil at 6:29 PM on June 12, 2011

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