Workers gathered in the late afternoon outside American Apparel headquarters in downtown Los Angeles to protest the suspension of at least three factory employees following a reported work stoppage Friday morning.
Officials with the General Brotherhood of Workers for American Apparel and some employees reported workers stepped away from their machines and stopped working at 9 a.m. in Los Angeles at the company’s two manufacturing plants in the county. One is located at 747 Warehouse Street in downtown L.A., where headquarter offices are located. The second, nicknamed Sequoia, is at 2654 Sequoia Drive in South Gate, Calif., and is where cutting and sewing takes place. The company, in its disclosure statement for its bankruptcy case, reported 755 workers in South Gate.
An American Apparel spokeswoman declined comment.
Jose Franco, a sewer at Sequoia who has been working with the company since 2008, was rallying with roughly 50 others Friday outside headquarters and reported a full stoppage by the first shift of workers — which by his estimation was about 500 people — who were subsequently sent home, according to Franco. The first shift is from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
“All of the workers stopped working,” Franco said describing the situation Friday morning. “[Management’s] changed many, many things….We [won’t] stop until they are out. We want them to explain [to] us what they’re going to do for the future. They just promise, promise, promise.”
Complaints about pay, changes in the production process and lack of clarity on the business outlook from management appear to be some of the issues protesters have taken up along with calls to bring back founder and fired chief executive officer Dov Charney.
A document reviewed by WWD showed Franco was written up today for stopping work and suspended for 72 hours. He said he expects to be terminated once he is in front of human resources executives Monday. Three others suspended today were trustees of the General Brotherhood of Workers for American Apparel union, a move the organization called retaliation by the company.
The stoppage appears to point to broader issues that continue among some workers and current management, which goes back to more than a year ago when Charney was fired.
Stephanie Paula Padilha dos Santos, president of the General Brotherhood of Workers for American Apparel, said the group still awaits certification by the National Labor Relations Board.
On Monday, Martin “Marty” Bailey, the company’s longtime head of manufacturing, departed American Apparel to start his own company, according to a letter distributed to employees dated Feb. 16.
That departure followed the announced closure of the company’s Hawthorne, Calif. dye house, with 20 of the facility’s 75 workers offered transfers to another factory.
American Apparel emerged from bankruptcy this month and counts a workforce of about 7,900.
In the meantime, Charney, who has lobbed lawsuit after lawsuit against New York hedge fund Standard General, the company and some former and current executives in relation to his firing, is said to be working in the background on a new endeavor — a competitor to American Apparel that would put him back in control, which has piqued the interest of some workers, including Franco. “Everybody want[s] to go there,” he said.