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Please Join Our CMT Coalition Against Human Trafficking

Hello Everyone,

Below is a link for an article that came out in the local paper this past weekend. Although this article is about what's happening in Layfatte, CA, it's also occuring in Concord and Pleasant HIll, (neighboring communities), at an alarming rate of 2 - 3 new shops a week.  Some with banners in front offering massage for $15 - $20 per hour.  A local Concord Chiropractor had brought this problem to my attention a couple of days before, explaining that within 6 months he had gone from 5 CMT's down to one.  Although I'm here in Martinez just N of Concord and PH, my business has also been adversely affected.

So I have been inspired to do somthing about it.  I am starting a coaltion of local CMT's to counteract this Cancer on our profession.  My ideas are to use media in it's many forms to bring awarness to the problem while highlighting our legitimacy.  In addition have an influence on current local regulations to make it easer for legitimate practitioners to get started while making it more difficult for the illegal shops to open. 

I have already made contact with Layfatte personal who were open to my suggestions.  My thoughts were to replace existing legislation with a requirement that every therapist working within city limits be certified by the CAMTC and maintain Professional Liability Insurance.  I was then asked about what happens after they open.  My suggestion was to then require the owner of the business to maintain a list of all employees or independant contractors with their state certification #'s on file.


If you are interested in joining the cause or have been dealing with similar problems, please feal free to contact me.  All comments welcomed,




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Comment by Joseph W Palmer on April 23, 2012 at 2:09pm

It has been a while since my last post but alot of good things are happening.  If you go to my group page "CMT Coalition Against Human Trafficking you will find the latest article from the Contra Costa Times regarding Lafayette CA.  Please read the article and post your reactions. 

I'm concerned about the annual registration with the Police Department requirment.  Perhaps I'm the only one? 

Also the CASE ACT is comming up on the Nov Ballot and the sponsors are looking for endorsements.  If interested in making a difference than please join our cause and give us your imput.

Comment by Joseph W Palmer on March 14, 2012 at 9:55pm
I just wanted to give an update to my orginal blog.  You may have noticed that the title has been changed.  It is result of my fellow coalition cofounder and partner Dr Robert Hamilton and myself realizing that it's a much bigger problem than we suspected.  It seems the vast majority of the issue is being caused by Human Traffickers with 75 - 80% of them are of Asian descent.  These "Asian Massage Parlors" seem to fall into four categories: 
1) Pure Sex Shop with the woman imprisoned in secret compartments within the premises.
2) Massage, (without training) with "Happy Ending" also conducted with the woman imprisoned in secret compartments within the premises.
3) Just Massage, (again most likely without training), by women working only for tips with long hours and no breaks.  (They however get to go home but for all intents and purposes are still slaves.)
4) Truly legit like anyone else and have nothing to do with the above.
Our solution is to create a much broader coalition then just CMT's to shut them down.  Fortunately a new proposition to stiffen penalties for convicted Traffickers will be on the ballot in CA in November, (they just turned in the required number of signatures to qualify).  Current law allows for only a 3 - 8yr sentence but the new law, (if passed), will expand it to a life sentence and up to a million dollar fine.  So by focussing on passage, we will get a very valuable tool to shut these places down. 
Anyone that has additional information on the problem is most welcomed.  Those of you here in California should help us to get out the vote and pass the new measure.  Please join our group where we have links to relevant sites. 
Thanks again for your interest.
Comment by Joseph W Palmer on February 29, 2012 at 3:57pm

Hello Everyone,

As a follow up, we have created the "CMT Coalition".

Our first meeting will be Thursday March 22nd,10am - 12pm at the Big C Athletic Club in Concord.  We will meeting in the Cafateria area.  The address is 1381 Galaxy Wy.

We will be discussing and strategizing what steps we can take to curb the illicit shops that are exploding all around us.  As long as these shops continue to grow they not only threated our reputation as therapists but re run the risk of losing our sacred profession all together.

Please join the "CMT Coalition Group" for more info and we look forward to your help and support.

Comment by Joseph W Palmer on February 27, 2012 at 4:41pm

Perhaps Carl, it doesn't mean as much as we would like now but it will.  With the increase of the before mentioned shops, municipalities are looking to except only CAMTC certification.  Your right that by law the CAMTC certification is voluntary.  However individual cities and counties can make it manditory as part of their regs. 

Regarding defining what is massage the regs do I think a pretty good job of quilifying the types of schools and institutions certifications are recognized.  It allows for a broad enough definition to accept the multiple varieties of therapies along with requiring a basic knowledge of anatomy.  I would not be for creating a narrowly defined modality for all massage and body work. 

I like yourself also use intuition as part of my practise and do something very different than what I had been orginally trained for.  That said getting the CAMTC certification does and should give you clout.  It means that you have completed and were willing go though the necessary process to achieve it.  It is the only way to delineate legitimate therapists from the bad actors and call them out so that we maintian our credibility as a necessary useful medical profession. 

Comment by Carl W. Brown on February 26, 2012 at 1:12pm

I would be more supportive of certification and licensing if it really meant something.  Even today this industry refuses to define exactly what massage is and what level of skills, knowledge and abilities are really needed to do minimally acceptable work. 


I am a CMT who does not do massage, however, I had to get certified to practice a very different kind of bodywork.  It actually took me years to unlearn my Swedish training because it is counterproductive to my medical intuitive skills. 


However I agree that there are lots of facilities that tarnish the reputation of good honest practitioners.  The big problem is that that use the work “massage” to mean something else.  As long as our industry keeps skirting a real definition of massage we will get nowhere.  500 hours of warming a seat does not a therapist make.  None of the tests really reflects the knowledge that an MT needs.  How many people cram for the test and then forget most of what is on the test in 6 months?  Part of the problem is that there is very little common knowledge between the modalities.  So it helps your score to know about medians when all you do is Swedish.  How many folks doing only energy will remember all the muscles?  Actually most Swedish practitioners won’t either because they do not work individual muscles.


I think the way to start is to narrow the definition of massage to basic Swedish.  If you want to do Swedish that you need to master defined skills that are essential to Swedish work.  If you want to do something uses like Reiki or Acupressure or what ever then don’t call it massage. 


Swedish is especially vulnerable because we push it as something pleasurable that you do naked.  That is why we don’t have many Reiki Parlors, or Bowen Parlors or even Rolfing Parlors.


I happened to squeak though the system however in licensing states there is no path to do the work I do because the training required to do the work, trains these skills out of you so it essentially make some forms of bodywork illegal.  I help people that medicine, alternative medicine and massage can’t help.  Making it illegal makes no sense.

Comment by Joseph W Palmer on February 25, 2012 at 6:51pm

Thank you Keith, for the great info and clarification.  I had not realized that CMTC Certification was not also State Certification.  It seems to be a little convoluted, however I'm sure that it will only be a matter of time before they are synonymous. 

That said, you mentioned the problem in Layfatte, (unfortunately the problem has also spread into PH and Concord). I had talked to Naroop Sricasta from the Layfatte Plannning Dept who has been charged with looking into regulation.  I found her to be very sympathetic to protecting legit practitioners and open to suggestions.  I was surprised to discover that they do not offer business licences but instead use zoning ordinaces for regulation.  The concerns she expressed were how to not make it more difficult for CMT's to practise while discouraging the rif raf.  Also what happens after someone opens?  How does one follow up to ensure everything is still on the up and up? What about the change over of personnel? 

Comment by Keith Eric Grant on February 25, 2012 at 4:45pm

Beverly May, who is government relations director for CAMTC (as well as being a past board chair), is aware of the article on Lafayette. She was planning on contacting the city this last week.

At the state level, CAMTC regulation is voluntary for the individual practitioner. Those certified are exempted from local massage licensing laws. In addition, a business that only uses certified practitioners to provide massage services is exempt from most local massage establishment permitting (but not business licenses). It is not optional for the city or county whether the follow state law, although CAMTC is still working on issues of compliance (as well as on forging cooperation).

A city or county does have the option of either requiring CAMTC certification or of regulating uncertified practitioners as they historically have done.

One who is certified by CAMTC may not claim that they are state licensed or state certified. CAMTC is a non-government organization created by state law and under review by the legislature. It is not a state agency. Only those certified by CAMTC may use terms such as "certified massage practitioner", certified massage therapist" or abbreviations thereof.

The current specifics of California law are under the Business & Professions code, section 4600 and following.

CAMTC does background checks that include information from the CA DOJ and the FBI as well as subscribing to ongoing notifications.

All of the above should be taken as information given to the best of my personal knowledge and not as an official CAMTC statement.

Comment by Daniel Cohen on February 24, 2012 at 11:20pm

The law currently makes application voluntary but it is state certification and that trumps local. Because employers and now many cities require CAMTC certification you could say it is de facto mandatory. Beverly is the one to talk to. You pay CAMTC for this so use them. Those without CAMTC certification can get local licensing if the tax district still issues them.

Comment by Joseph W Palmer on February 24, 2012 at 10:52pm

Thank you for the referal.  Someone else has also given me her name and I plan to call her soon.  However when I had talked to someone else at CAMTC last week they had told me that it was still voluntary.  Perhaps the person had mispoke.  It does seem that currently there are two different regs on the books for these communities, those with CAMTC Certification and those who do not.  That said, I'm looking forward to connecting with Beverly.   I have also started a new group, (Certified Massage Therapists Coalition), for anyone wanting to join the fray.

Comment by Daniel Cohen on February 24, 2012 at 10:25pm

If you are having trouble with a municipality they are in violation of state law. It has nothing to do with the voluntary status. Report it to Beverly May at CAMTC and they will set them straight. Seeing that cities and counties follow the law is their responsibility. They have the clout to bring them in line. Cities are rapidly dropping their massage laws to comply with state law.

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