LOS ANGELES, April 29, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Workers United to SAVE AMERICAN APPAREL, an employee coalition of American Apparel workers, announced today that it has received signatures from over 300 garment workers of American Apparel, Inc, who are immigrants, to a petition through its representative, Hermandad Mexicana. The petition is in response to a company advertisement published in the April 24-30, 2015 issue of LA Weekly asking customers to "Shop our Limited Edition Immigration-Integration Tee at select Los Angeles locations" with proceeds going to the California Community Foundation New Americans Opportunity Fund, Empowering Immigrant Communities.
This advertisement is simply part of a shameless media effort under the direction of new management to white wash the deteriorating record of worker relations that has taken shape under the leadership of New York hedge fund Standard General, the board of directors chaired by Colleen Brown, and the new management team led by CEO Paula Schneider.
Company founder Dov Charney was controversially removed as Chairman and CEO of American Apparel last year. His removal is now the subject of an investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and has also led to numerous lawsuits in federal, Delaware, and California state courts with allegations that the company violated federal securities laws and breached its fiduciary duties to shareholders. Since Mr. Charney's removal, widespread intimidation and harassment, reduced working hours and benefits, and job terminations have become the plight of American Apparel's manufacturing workforce, which is predominantly comprised of immigrant employees. Over a dozen National Labor Relations Board claims have been filed against the company citing intimidation tactics in violation of workers' constitutional rights. The company has launched an illegal union busting effort under the direction of Hilda Delgado to prevent workers from organizing.
On March 18, 2015, Hermandad Mexicana sent a letter to the Board of Directors on behalf of over 2,000 workers that signed petitions asking the Board to meet to address deteriorating working conditions at the company. This letter was quickly dismissed by Chairperson of the Board Colleen Brown, in a brazen display of disregard for the welfare of the company's workers. A few days later the company laid off 180 workers in violation of federal and state WARN Acts, for which the company is being sued in California state court.
The company has addressed these violations by claiming that these actions are a necessary part of a business turnaround at American Apparel. The truth is that these layoffs are the result of the failed business strategies of the new management team that have brought about rapidly declining sales. The company publicly claims that it plans to offer new benefits to workers in the future, and that it will finally pay Christmas bonuses (which remain unpaid and months overdue), to draw attention away from genuine worker demands to address deteriorating working conditions.
The workers are thankful to customers for shopping at American Apparel and encourage them to continue to do so, but ask that current management refrain from misleading marketing and propaganda PR tactics. Management should not be using worthwhile social causes as cover for their mistreatment of immigrant employees.
Hermandad Mexicana reiterates its request for a meeting with the Board to address the rapidly deteriorating working conditions at the company, and asks that the company avoid taking further actions to endanger the livelihood of its immigrant workforce. "Sweatshop Free" stands for the fair and ethical treatment of garment workers, and it is a key foundation of American Apparel. The company's legacy as a paragon of social responsibility in the apparel industry is now being tarnished after only a few months under the leadership of new management.
SOURCE Hermandad Mexicana