American Apparel’s Charney loses support of some factory workers he championed

Tue Jul 8, 2014 3:47pm EDT
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By Lisa Baertlein and Alicia Avila

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Ousted American Apparel Inc APP.A head Dov Charney supported workers in the clothing industry with his stance in favor of immigration rights and determination to keep jobs in the United States, but some employees are not returning the favor.

Four of the six workers who would talk to a Reuters reporter outside the company's downtown Los Angeles factory said they back the board's decision to fire Charney, the company's outspoken founder who has been dogged by lawsuits and allegations of sexual harassment.

During breaks at a food truck parked near American Apparel's main 800,000-square-foot factory that produces brightly colored T-shirts and leather goods, workers said they hoped new leadership would fix problems that have saddled the 250-store chain with losses in 16 of the past 17 quarters.

"I hope things do change. Work has been slow for about five months," said Jose Barrera, 42.

"That's bad because my wife also works here and sometimes she can only work three days a week," said Barrera, who has been with American Apparel for about two years and makes $10 per hour in the sewing department.

While he would like to earn more, he said he is glad to be making $1 above Los Angeles' minimum wage in an environment that lacks the pressure he experienced at some other textile factories in the city.

Many workers declined to comment, saying they weren't authorized to.


American Apparel owner Dov Charney speaks during a May Day rally protest march for immigrant rights, in downtown Los Angeles May 1, 2009.   REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni