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Company seeks workers after federal crackdown

July 12, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A Los Angeles apparel company blames a federal crackdown on undocumented workers for a work force shortage.According to American Apparel, around 3,500 employees produce just over 1 million garments per week, but it's short 1,000 employees.

According to the company, an immigration raid earlier this year caused the company to lose about 2,500 employees, many of who didn't have proper immigration documentation.

The challenge for American Apparel now is to find U.S. citizens or legal immigrants with garment industry experience to fill the jobs.

Peter Schey is American Apparel's lawyer.

"What American Apparel is finding is that the vast majority of applicants for open positions are members of the immigrant community," Schey said. "There has simply not been the training that U.S. citizens need to enter these industries."

According to two University of California studies, the Los Angeles garment industry employs approximately 120,000 workers. About 67 percent are immigrants, many of which are here illegally and work for minimum wage.

While critical of the country's immigration policies, Schey said finding legal residents or U.S, citizens to do the jobs at factories like American Apparel's has been frustrating.

"Immigrants who are known to the federal government still do not have the documentation that is required in order for the employer to fill a position with that job applicant," Schey said.

Jobs at American Apparel pay between $11 to $18 an hour, depending on experience and ability.

Those interested in applying to a job will have to apply in person. After filling out the application, a candidate will be given a test to operate a machine. If done successfully, the candidate would start immediately.

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