Byline: Scott Malone

NEW YORK — The New York City Apparel Industry Compliance Program in its first public meeting this month said that it has certified 11 city garment contractors as in compliance with local and federal labor laws and extended an invitation to more local manufacturers and contractors to join the group.
The two-year-old organization conducts eight-week seminars on legal requirements and modern plant management, including costing and quality control. So far, it has run two sessions of classes for 20 companies, 11 of whom the group has endorsed as being in compliance.
In addition to taking the classes, contractors must submit their plants to unannounced third-party audits to be endorsed by the group. It places approved contractors on the NYC-AICP referral list, which it shares with members.
Ken Levine, chief financial officer of Secaucus, N.J.-headquartered manufacturer Hazan Group and a member of the NYC-AICP’s advisory board, said the referral list was an effort at “rewarding the compliant shop.”
Tammy McCutchen, administrator of the wage and hour division at the Labor Department, also spoke at the April 17 meeting at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. She cited a recently released Labor Department survey which found that the compliance rate in New York’s garment industry had improved between 1999 and 2001, and told the group that indicates: “You have had an impact. You are not butting your heads against a brick wall.”
As reported, a report released by the New York State Labor Department showed less improvement between 2000 and 2001. Levine also kicked off a membership drive at the meeting, and said the group would hold additional rounds of compliance training as soon as more contractors signed up.
“Our goal is for an industry that self-monitors,” he said. “We long for the day when the only sweatshop in New York is a pizza parlor in the middle of summer.”
Attendees also toured two of the museum’s reconstructed tenement apartments, which were laid out as they had been when the building was occupied by garment workers.
In the second-floor apartment laid out as it would have been in the 1890s, when the Levine family (no relation to Ken Levine) lived in the building, two of the three tiny rooms were largely turned over to the company’s dress business. Another apartment on that floor was laid out as it had been in the second decade of the 20th century, when the Rogarshefsky family lived in the building, and showed the entire apartment arrayed for domestic life since the family garment business was not run out of the home.

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