Dov Charney, disgraced former CEO of American Apparel and current CEO of its identical offshoot Los Angeles Apparel, reportedly received millions of dollars as part of the Paycheck Protection Program dolled out by the federal government’s covid-19 relief package. Whether this was before or after he somehow scored a 2-year military contract, earmarked for small businesses ran by people of color, to create face masks for the Air Force is unclear! His factories may have infected hundreds of workers with covid-19, but that didn’t stop him from dominating the covid payout game.
Vice reports that according to SearchPPP, Charney received a whopping $2.5 million in funds. Alongside his reputation as a massive creep, Charney been a longtime advocate of fair, living wages for the Los Angeles-based garment workers who create the comfortable basics and bodysuits that put his brands on the map. Ideally, we’d be able to shrug our shoulders and take comfort knowing that at least hundreds of vulnerable employees working at Los Angeles Apparel’s factory will be able to receive pay during these trying times. But that’s an impossible task knowing that all the money in the world was unable to convince Charney to institute better covid-19 safey procedures: As of mid-summer, over 300 Los Angeles Apparel factory workers contracted covid-19. Four died.
From the Los Angeles Times (emphasis ours):
Mariana, a 56-year-old woman from El Salvador, felt afraid every day. She said workers like herself received little or delayed information from the South L.A. company about positive cases, leaving them to try and deduce why their colleagues had left.
The company’s founder said that as the coronavirus swept through the factory, management informed employees who may have been exposed in a timely fashion. But garment workers who spoke to The Times tell a different story, saying they were largely kept in the dark as colleagues became sick, and the information they did receive was slow to arrive or vague.
On July 10, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health ordered the factory to shut down operations. DPH released a lengthy statement detailing the myriad of ways Los Angeles Apparel skirted basic safety precautions: Limited social distancing standards, cardboard barriers between workers instead of more effective plexiglass, and hiring new employees despite explicit orders not to. Additionally, Los Angeles Apparel allegedly attempted to prevent DPH employees from entering the factory in the days before the shutdown.
“Business owners and operators have a corporate, moral and social responsibility to their employees and their families to provide a safe work environment that adheres to all of the health officer directives,” said DPH Director Barbara Ferrer in the statement.
According to the New York Times, Charney called the release “media theatrics.” He also released a statement of his own, which can only be described as audacious bullshit:
In all fairness, it’s morally irresponsible for the Health Department to speak on the infection rates at our factory without also addressing its connection to the issue at large: that the Latino community in Los Angeles is left vulnerable to Covid-19 in a healthcare system that provides no support with testing and no support or assistance for those that test positive.
Sure, a predatory healthcare structure, the nation’s broken immigration system, and the general aloofness of elected officials are responsible for the crisis that’s left the Latinx community vulnerable to covid-19. But Charney’s lax health factory safety standards are complicit in that story, despite the transparent lip service to social justice.
The Los Angeles Apparel factory re-opened in late July.
PPP money went to plenty of other pricks who don’t design turtlenecks that make my rack look amazing: According the Vice, Flywheel received a cool $1.71 million, makeup crypt kepr Jeffree Starr received a little over $413,000, and the now defunct Man Repeller scored around $314 million just before shuttering forever. But there’s something particularly odious about over $2 million and a military contract going to a man who couldn’t even protect the workers he has built his entire career ostensibly centering.