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American Apparel Workers, Supported by Charney, Allege Intimidation Tactics

Hermandad Mexicana, Santa Ana non-profit that advicates for immigrants’ rights, with the help of ousted company founder Dov Charney, said it has helped factory workers at downtown L.A.’s American Apparel Inc. organize a coalition to appeal to management about changes workers say have taken place at the company.

The organization said workers met on Feb. 28 to form the Coalition of American Apparel Factory Workers United to Save American Apparel. The group requests that the apparel maker stop using the slogan “Sweatshop Free” in its advertising, stop reducing work hours and furloughing workers and that certain employees stop intimidating workers as they try to meet with the coalition.

Maria Luisa Salgado, an American Apparel employee who helped form the coalition and is a member of Hermandad Mexicana, said in a press release that some employees were intimidating workers who had flyers that called for coalition meetings.

Tina Vega, a director of Hermandad, said Charney, the former American Apparel chief executive who was ousted last year for misconduct, supported workers and Hermandad Mexican and is helping the workers form the coalition. Vega said the workers feel the climate has changed since the company brought in new management.

A spokesperson for American Apparel said the company will investigate the allegations and take appropriate action to fix the situation if anyone is found to be intimidating employees.

“Core principles of American Apparel are workers’ rights and respect for our employees; this is clear from our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, which reflects our efforts to ensure that American Apparel’s workplaces are free from harassment, bullying and intimidation and which promotes fair treatment of employees and compliance with labor and employment laws,” the spokesperson said.

Workers at American Apparel are not unionized, but in its most recent annual report the company listed unionization as one of the possible risks to the business because of possible work stoppages and higher labor costs.

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