LOS ANGELES, March 19, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Workers United to SAVE AMERICAN APPAREL, an employee coalition of American Apparel workers announced today that it has delivered a letter through its representative, Hermandad Mexicana, to the company's Board of Directors. The full text of the letter is:
March 18, 2015
American Apparel, Inc.
Board of Directors
747 Warehouse Street
Los Angeles, CA 90021
RE: American Apparel, Inc. Workers' 13 Affirmations to Save American Apparel
Dear Board of Directors:
This letter is addressed to the American Apparel, Inc. Board of Directors on behalf of the American Apparel, Inc. workers. This letter represents the sentiments prevalent throughout the company amongst those who have dedicated their lives to manufacture apparel in the city of Los Angeles and contribute to making American Apparel a global success.
Below are 13 affirmations for the purpose of establishing a clear commitment of intention to save American Apparel from those who have usurped the legitimate interest of minority shareholders of the company and have systematically undermined its iconic position as sweatshop free apparel industry leader.
- The employee morale is at an all-time low. Surveillance of employee activities is palpable everywhere. Intimidation by company security guards and supervisors for lawfully protected employee activity is prevalent company-wide. Supervisors have threatened employees with termination for attending meetings or having hand-bills in hand. Employees have been threatened with firing for speaking with the public media. Workers have been admonished for mentioning the name of Dov Charney during the work-day.
- A female employee was harassed and complained to the Human Resources Department but her complaint resulted in her termination. An additional harassment complaint from another worker was filed and no investigation was called for. Furthermore, just a few days later another female employee was fired for handing out flyers while on her break.
- The "sweatshop free" business model is in jeopardy of being eliminated given the current rate of deterioration of wages, hours, and working conditions experienced by the American Apparel workforce. Garment employees are working as little as 2 or 3 days per week, and many are experiencing rotating full week lay-offs for the first time in their tenure with American Apparel.
- The company has no ability to borrow more money beyond the $15 million Standard General has committed to lend, (yet, astonishingly has failed to lend anything to date), even though this commitment was publicly promised in July 2014. At the time of Charney's removal in June 2014, the company was financially viable as a result of an equity financing completed during that period. As soon as Standard General was introduced to American Apparel the cash flow began to deteriorate. Standard General appointed a board with entirely no retail or apparel experience, which in turn hired an inexperienced executive management team. Their lack of knowledge and experience in the industry obligated them to hire an army of consultants at significant costs to the company, including exorbitant executive bonuses and six figure salaries at the expense of production workers.
- Besides a $10 million loan Standard General replaced as a result of Lion Capital calling its loan with the ouster of previous CEO Dov Charney, it has not invested one cent in American Apparel. In spite of that, Standard General has deceptively conveyed to the media that it is providing American Apparel with "much needed financing."
- With the removal of American Apparel's founder and the insidious intervention of New York City-based hedge fund, Standard General, and the resulting reconstitution of the Board of Directors, the current executive management team has no tenure with the business and limited retail industry experience. The current Board, with the exception of Lyndon Lea, has no clothing retail experience or apparel manufacturing experience.
- The creative integrity of the American Apparel brand is being dismantled. The company now has no tenured creative leadership in place since the hasty and uncompassionate termination of the two senior creative directors, Marsha Brady and Iris Alonzo, each with 11 years of service with the company. As of March 18, 2015 additional creative staff was terminated, for a total of seven. The iconic cultural brand characteristic of American Apparel is being seriously undermined due to the replacement of experienced employees with novices who have no understanding of the brand from inside the company, nor any connection to the brand history, culture, aesthetic, or values. This effectively constitutes the elimination of the creative department.
- As the largest private employer in Los Angeles, recognized for setting industry standards in terms of employee remuneration and benefits, which influenced both apparel and non-apparel companies in the vicinity – this is an alarming undeniable crisis.
- Many current senior managers and executives with tenure at the company have told us they are appalled at the direction pursued with the company by Standard General and its Board members. They are frustrated by missing critical textiles, top selling products, lack of vision, and poor communication.
- Experienced mid-level managers, creative staff, and executives are actively searching elsewhere to apply their talent and skills.
- Today there is no denying the steep decline of company sales. Sales are down 9% in the 4th quarter.
- Company vendors are not being paid in the customary timely fashion.
- Hundreds of current employees have complained of no longer being able to afford the basic amenities of life including putting food on their tables.
These are 13 affirmations that we challenge the new board to address. The growing movement of workers within American Apparel under the banner of – Workers United to SAVE AMERICAN APPAREL - will not be deterred by intimidation and harassment or a hypocritical "Code of Ethics" used for the purpose of pretending a new found integrity to the public media, yet not practiced by the new management. An increasing number of formal employee complaints filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), due to violations of federally protected activity by the current management, are evidence of this.
We are prepared to meet with the Board of Directors to address these issues when the Board encounters the fortitude to be truthful and transparent with the workers who have built American Apparel.
/s/ Nativo-Vigil :Lopez
Notes: More than two thousand employees of American Apparel have signed petitions articulating numerous demands related to the deteriorating working hours and conditions and have declared the creation of their organizing coalition under the name of "Workers United to SAVE AMERICAN APPAREL."
SOURCE Hermandad Mexicana