Collectif féministe qui dérange pour transformer
Former CEO and founder of »vertically integrated » American Apparel Dov Charney has been the subject of many articles in the past, most of them either praising his so-called revolutionary capitalism or criticizing the man outed as a sexual predator by many of the company’s models and employees. Not so much present in the press since he was kicked out of his own empire in December 2014, the former king of overpriced sweatshirts has been trying to gain back his position at the top of American Apparel, siding with the L.A. factory workers in their conflict against the management that has replaced him. Yes, former master and white saviour is now attending workers’ rallies and organizational meetings that resemble unionization, something he of course never encouraged as CEO.
AA’s golden days were characterized by the company’s no sweatshop policy, fair wages and healthcare for it’s mostly immigrant L.A. workers, all attributed to Charney’s visionary businessmanship. As if 21st century sugar-coated capitalism could fundamentally be non-exploitative. As if fair pay could justify a company’s outrageous prices for cotton attire, whilst raking millions of profit for its heads. As if granting above average working conditions was a secure way to protect workers’ rights and well-being. Combined with marketing campaigns featuring young models not sporting much clothing, this strategy worked well for some time, until multiple sexual harassment lawsuits caught up with Montreal homeboy’s success. Since his dismissal, Dov Charney has claimed living on a friend’s couch and being down to his last $100,000. But it is clear that he still owns his $4.1 M house in L.A. and unnamed sources have confirmed that he’s living in it, not without domestic aide and various workers helping with his current ambitions.
So what is Dov Charney trying to do? His ownership of shares isn’t exactly useful at the moment since he’s given up his voting rights to hedge fund Standard General in order to up his shares to 43%. He is most likely suing them for breaking a deal or planning to. It turns out Charney is siding with the factory workers currently organizing against the new management and that the organization behind the workers, Hermanda Mexicana, is supporting his return as CEO as implied on their homepage.
I strongly believe that the workers of American Apparel should be able to unionize if they see fit rather than having to side with Dov Charney. I wish they would gain back the conditions that have deteriorated since the new board has taken seat, but do not in any way believe that Charney’s illusory business model is ideal and satisfying nor that the return of a man outed as a sexual predator would benefit the workers. The fact that working conditions have degraded since his leave is proof that a labor union would be the best way to not only ensure but protect and maintain workers rights. Leaving those issues to the good faith of private owners is not a safe bet and will never be. If Charney’s true intent is to make sure the workers are represented and heard and their rights protected, he would be rallying for proper unionization right now. Let’s not be fooled by his instrumentalization of a workers conflict for his own benefit, power and profit. Leave the workers’ rights to the workers, not the masters!