American Apparel workers walk off job in protest of layoffs, salary cuts

Monday, February 29, 2016
American Apparel workers walk off job in protest of layoffs, salary cuts
Workers walked off the job at American Apparel in protest of layoffs and salary cuts.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Workers protested in Los Angeles over firings and salary cuts at American Apparel, a large clothing manufacturing company seeking to emerge from bankruptcy.

Several workers were part of a work stoppage on Friday. Some were fired and they spoke out against the company during demonstrations.

"They are laying off workers, cutting out their hours, their pay and their rights, and now they can no longer afford living," Stephanie Padilha with the Brotherhood of Workers of American Apparel said.

Hundreds of employees briefly stopped working at the main plant in the Downtown Industrial District in Los Angeles. Over at the South Gate plant where they make T-shirts, the job action shutdown the plant for the rest of the day.

A small group was fired on Friday, including Jeremias Pablo, who had been trying to organize workers. He was a sewing manager employed with American Apparel for 18 years.

"I was in charge of 2,000 employees here at American Apparel and today I get fired," Pablo said.

American Apparel has been reorganizing its financing and streamlining its production after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection from its creditors. Earlier in February, it emerged from bankruptcy. A spokesperson said the company has been "successfully restructured."

Workers said American Apparel was once the model workplace. Management pushed for immigration reform for undocumented workers and provided salaries of $16 to $18 per an hour. Now many American Apparel stores have shut down and workers said it's hurting them.

"There was more work because there was more sales and if there is more sales you have the opportunity to work more overtime. Now it is not happening," Pablo said.

"It's beyond just making clothes. It's fair wages and it's unbelievable that to this point these people have been treated as nothing, with no respect," Padilha said.

Spokesperson for American Apparel Arielle Patrick issued a response on the issue. The statement read: "American Apparel as a company and its leadership team believe in the right to free speech for all, especially our employees. In particular, American Apparel believes in its employees' own right to choose whether or not they wish to be represented by a union."

Workers said plans are in the works to meet and map out an action plan for what to do next.