UNITE SAYS GUESS, WORKER DISCORD SETTLED

Byline: Louise Farr and Laurie Stanek

LOS ANGELES--A dispute between garment workers claiming mistreatment by a Guess contractor and Guess ended last week, according to a UNITE official here.
In June, according to David Young, director of UNITE's Los Angeles organizing project, more than 100 workers staged a wildcat strike against Song of California and Goodtimes contract sewing shops. They claimed that Song/Goodtimes owner Sang Lee had dropped their piece work rate, telling them Guess lowered the contractor's price by 70 cents a garment. Lee is also alleged to have fired or threatened to fire workers who protested and tried to unionize.
During the strike, picketers targeted Song/Goodtimes. They also marched on the Guess downtown headquarters here and the company's Rodeo Drive store in Beverly Hills, chanting, "Boycott Guess jeans."
Young would not disclose terms of any agreement the union made with Guess beyond saying, "This dispute has been settled to the union's and the workers' satisfaction." UNITE is attempting to organize the Song/Goodtimes shops.
Stan Levy, Guess general counsel, said Guess had no comment.
The union planned to picket Karen Kane Inc. here last week. But in a pact signed with UNITE signed on Tuesday, Kane agreed not to employ Song of California or Goodtimes beyond 6,000 units that Song already has in progress. They also agreed to remove 2,700 cut and unbundled units from Song.
"We didn't have a whole lot of choice," said Kane lawyer Belle C. Mason, adding that she signed the agreement to avoid picketing. Kane, a better-price misses' sportswear maker, had inspected Sang Lee's facilities before working with him, she added.
"Not only do I not have any reason to believe workers are being treated badly, but I have every reason to believe that they are being treated better than most workers in this city," Mason said.
Mason said she didn't know if Karen Kane had lowered its payment rate to Sang Lee.
On Friday, Lee said he complies with all laws.
"I'm paying the highest and fairest piece rates in town," he said. "The union, whenever they open their mouth, is lying."
On Friday, 21 striking workers, led by a UNITE organizer, picketed the Santa Monica Place mall flagship store for Miller's Outpost, shouting, "Boycott Anchor Blue." Anchor Blue is Miller's Outpost's private label.
According to Young, Miller's Outpost vice president of loss prevention and human resources, Fred Ford, agreed at the beginning of July to stop doing business with shops owned by Sang Lee. A subsequent union inspection, Young said, uncovered thousands of Anchor Blue garments.
"We'll be there till Miller's Outpost stops doing business with the guy," Young said.
Ford was on vacation and couldn't be reached for comment.

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