Good News! After 9 long years, finally Liberty Apparel workers have a day in court.
On May 30th, Judge Richard Sullivan issued a court decision rejecting Liberty Apparel’s attempt to dismiss the case. (A copy of the decision is on our website at www.aintiawoman.org.) In his decision, the judge found that a manufacturer did not need direct control over the factory in order to be held responsible.
26 workers sewed garments for Liberty Apparel in a factory named 103 Fashion for several years. The Liberty Apparel subcontractor had been forcing workers to meet deadlines by working 7 days a week, 13 to 14 hours a day. They often worked so hard, they had no day off for months. Workers were repeatedly misled by Liberty Apparel and the subcontractor that they would get paid if they finished the work for Liberty Apparel on time. In early 1999, the subcontractor closed the shop without any notice and ran away, leaving workers without 4 to 6 entire months of pay. After the shop closed, Liberty Apparel never kept their promise, and refused responsibility. In August 1999, workers filed a lawsuit against Liberty Apparel.
Since the original judge’s wrongful decision on the case in 2002, the labor law in the garment industry has been unenforceable, and has drastically deteriorated work conditions. It has allowed manufacturers to push the contract price down without any precaution, leaving workers with no recourse. Wages in the New York garment industry have gotten so low that no citizen can survive, and many skilled workers have been forced to find jobs in other industries. It has also forced a lot of high-quality production to leave New York for California or Canada.
Now with Judge Richard Sullivan’s new decision, your participation is urgently needed. Let’s come together to strike a blow against the abusive subcontracting system. A victory for Liberty Apparel workers will bring us closer towards ending the rampant lawlessness in the garment industry.
Liberty Apparel workers are tireless, and refuse to be discouraged by this mockery of a legal process. Before the court date on October 27, 2008, they are calling for a rally on September 30th in front of the Liberty Apparel showroom, located in the middle of New York Garment District, to raise people’s understanding about the weakness of current Federal and State law, to expose the sweatshop-subcontracting system and to call for change.