Under Pressure From Homeland Security, American Apparel Fires 1,800 Undocumented Workers

american_apparel_full_0620072sepia.jpgLOS ANGELES TIMES: American Apparel is in the process of firing all of its undocumented workers, under pressure from the Department of Homeland Security — a move that will cause as much real harm to Los Angeles as it will imaginary good. Taking away as many as 1,800 jobs that pay $10 to $12 an hour plus benefits will probably drive those workers into an underground economy or into sweatshops, maybe into crime, maybe homelessness. They and their children will be more susceptible to poverty and hunger and more likely to require public assistance. There are those who believe that Los Angeles will benefit because those jobs will now go to American citizens. Certainly that is possible. Joblessness in California is at 12.2%, a 70-year high andfar past the national average of 9.7%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And between August 2008 and August of this year, Los Angeles lost more jobs than any other U.S. city. Citizens of every race and ethnicity, desperate for employment, are now frequenting day- labor sites in downtown L.A. and Hollywood, according to the Wall Street Journal; some have turned to farm work and labor in the fields. But even if American Apparel replaces its lost workers with U.S. citizens, it’s just a shell game; one problem is solved while another is created. MORE

THE FRISKY: Hipster porn aside, you know you love those shirts. Something else that’s near and dear to sesame_street_aa_m_1.jpgyour heart? Sesame Street. To commemorate the show’s 40th anniversary, American Apparel sifted through the archives to select original line drawings of Jim Henson’s characters for limited edition T-shirts that will be sold in 25 stores and online later this month. MORE

ALTERNET: This week, American Apparel is slated to lay off 1,800 workers from its clothing factory in Los Angeles. The impending layoffs are the result of a federal investigation which turned up irregularities in the documents workers presented when first hired by the company. The investigation itself represents a new direction in Department of Homeland Security (DHS) immigration enforcement, one which focuses on audits of employment records rather than mass roundups and S.W.A.T.-team raids—raids which inflicted abuse and trauma on immigrants, their families and our communities. While DHS’s new focus on worksite enforcement is without the brutality of guns or dogs, the imminent firing of these workers—many of whom joined American Apparel years ago when the economy was robust and jobs were plentiful—is no cause for celebration. The disruption at American Apparel and the ripples it will send throughout Los Angeles represents another kind of tragedy—one that is a consequence of our broken immigration system. MORE

shopliftingtaolin100709250width.jpgNHPR: Writer and poet Tao Lin is not someone who shrinks from media attention. He’s sold shares of an unfinished novel on eBay and offers up GChat sessions for a fee. With all his self-driven publicity stunts, it’s hard to get past the noise and really dig into the writing. His style is flat, unemotive, and focuses on the surface of things. His new book is Shoplifting From American Apparel, and it’s a slim autobiographical novella set mostly in New York. The main character, Sam, gets caught stealing and goes to jail, plays Scrabble and makes out with girls, gambles away hundreds of dollars in Atlantic City, and attends a music festival in Florida… but all with equal gravity and a sense of profound detachment. MORE

TRADING MARKETS: American Apparel has reported that its comparable store sales decreased 15% for September 2009, compared to a 15% increase for September 2008. MORE

DAILY MAIL: Dov Charney is the chief executive, and already his critics have accused him of being as sleazy as the images he personally helps to create. The 40-year-old Canadian, who is not married and has no children, has a penchant for parading around his offices in his underwear and showing off his vintage porn magazine collection. He boasts of having a voracious sexual appetite and of having sex with female employees. He spurns professional models and instead handpicks girls off the street, from strip clubs, or from his factory floor to model for sexy photo american_apparel.jpgshoots during which he himself wields the camera. Indeed, according to one former employee of the firm, staff were told that the company wanted to cultivate a ‘dirty MySpace look’ for its ads, a reference to the disturbing trend among teens to post provocative, seductive photographs of themselves on social networking websites. Charney, with his droopy moustache, straggly hair and unkempt appearance, looks nothing like a selfmade billionaire. Those who have met him liken his physical appearance to a Seventies porn baron. Charney himself likes to justify his behaviour as ‘sexual freedom’: ‘I’m not saying I want to s*** all the girls at work, but if I fall in love at work it’s going to be beautiful and sexual,’ he readily explained in one interview. In the U.S., his alarming antics have landed him at the centre of a string of sexual harassment cases. One action includes claims that he chaired business meetings naked, and had photographs of naked female employees — whom he apparently likes to refer to as ‘sluts’ and ‘whores’ — on his office computer. Charney trumpets that he likes to mix business with pleasure — and as the mastermind behind a hugely successful international brand, the fast-talking businessman with the murky past knows that sex sells. MORE

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