Boycott Forever 21!|
2002-05-04, 1:46 p.m.
This is a boycott request from Sweatshop Watch and the Garment Workers Center.
In Los Angeles, workers from six factories who sewed for the popular women's clothing line Forever 21 are calling for an official boycott. The workers are owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in minimum wage and overtime pay. They worked long hours in un safe and unsanitary conditions. And, some of the workers were fired for speaking out about the poor conditions.
"We worked ten to twelve hours a day for subminimum wages and no overtime," said Esperanza Hernandez, one of the garment workers. "A lot of our factories were dirty and unsafe, with rats and cockroaches running around."
"At first they promised that I would be paid $300 to $350 per week," said Araceli Castro, who also sewed Forever 21. "But when I went to pick up my first paycheck, it was only for $250 even though I had put in extra hours in overtime. My boss claimed tha t she would pay me more when there was more work, but she never did."
The Garment Worker Center helped the 19 workers strategize how they could work as a group to support each other in their cases. Workers decided they should target both the popular clothing retailer and the individual factories to demand their wages. In the garment industry, retailers sit at the top of the industry ladder and subcontract production to manufacturers and sewing contractors (or factories). For too long, this subcontracting system has allowed retailers, like Forever 21, to reap enormous pro fits off the backs of sweatshop workers who occupy the bottom rung of the ladder. With projected earnings of up to $400 million in 2001, Forever 21 lies at the top of the hierarchy of power in the garment industry and has the greatest ability to ensure th e workers' wages and to improve conditions in the factories they do business with.
Workers originally attempted to negotiate directly with the management of Forever 21. However, Forever 21's refusal to negotiate, to offer a just settlement, and to cooperate in the state investigation of the workers' claims prompted workers to step up the pressure and file a lawsuit in September against the label. The Asian Pacific American Legal Center is representing the workers in their legal case. The lawsuit seeks unpaid wages, damages and penalties, as well as assurances from Forever 21 that th ey do not use sweatshop labor.
The Forever 21 workers announced an official boycott on November 17. Taking advantage of the approaching holiday shopping season, workers will picket every Saturday through the New Year and step up outreach to university students and community groups to build support for their campaign.
Workers are at the forefront of this battle, demanding accountability from retailers and raising awareness among consumers. The workers have recognized the potential they have as a group to demand widespread changes in the garment industry.
oin us as we protest Forever 21 until they settle the workers' demands.
* May 18th and May 25th, Saturday, 3:00pm at the Beverly Center(Meet at 3rd Street and La Cienega, Beverly Hills),
For more information, contact the Garment Workers Center at 888-449-6115 or [email protected]
What You Can Do!
1. Call Forever 21 President Do Won Chang (213-747-2121) and let him know you support the workers' demands to:
* pay their owed wages and
* ensure that all the factories it uses abide by labor laws and respect the workers.
2. Invite the Garment Worker Center and a Forever 21 garment worker to speak at your next meeting, event or class. Contact the GWC at 888-449-6115 or [email protected]
3. Get your organization, church, school or club to endorse the campaign and pass a resolution demanding Forever 21 take responsibility for the conditions of their workers who sew their clothes. Click here to endorse the campaign.
4. Send 100 postcards to Do Won Chang, President of Forever 21. Download postcards and other campaign materials here.
5. Adopt a local Forever 21 store and leaflet customers every week. Download leaflets and other campaign materials here. Visit the Forever 21 web site to find a store near you, or contact the GWC at 888-449-6115 or [email protected]
6. If you are in the Los Angeles area, sign up to receive action alerts and join workers at weekly actions. Contact the GWC at 888-449-6115 or [email protected]
GARMENT WORKER CENTER
1250 So. Los Angeles Street, Suite 206
Los Angeles, CA 90015
© 2001-2002, Garment Worker Center
"Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation." - Martin Luther King, Jr.