American Apparel workers protest rumored clinic closing

American Apparel workers protest rumored clinic closing

Dozens of American Apparel workers gathered in downtown Los Angeles on Friday to protest the rumored closing of the company's medical clinic, a benefit long touted as central to the firm's lauded treatment of employees.

The Los Angeles company, meanwhile, said such rumors are "categorically false."

"American Apparel has no plans to close its on-site medical clinic," the company said in a statement.

But American Apparel employees, who were affected by layoffs and furloughs earlier this year, wanted to preemptively act to pressure management to avoid closing the clinic, said Nativo Lopez, senior adviser of Hermandad Mexicana, which has been organizing American Apparel workers.

Lopez said "management sources" at American Apparel tipped off the workers that the company was planning to shutter the clinic to slash costs.

Those rumors prompted about 75 workers to protest outside the J.W. Marriott Hotel in downtown Los Angeles on Friday, where Chief Executive Paula Schneider was giving a keynote address to the National Assn. of Women Business Owners. Schneider has said that the company has added extra benefits for workers, including paid sick leave and holidays.

Ousted Chief Executive Dov Charney, who supported fair pay and better treatment of employees, has long pointed to the clinic as a pillar of his business philosophy. The board fired Charney last year, citing inappropriate conduct with employees and misuse of company funds. 

Most workers "depend on the clinic for primary care services for themselves and for their children," Lopez said. "That's why we are out here today."

Follow Shan Li on Twitter @ByShanLi

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