State Offers $3 Million For Displaced Workers

DTLA - After Canadian firm Gildan Activewear acquired American Apparel in January, the layoffs at the once-thriving clothing company began. They were most pronounced at American Apparel’s headquarters and factory at 747 S. Warehouse St. in the Industrial District: A total of 2,166 people lost their jobs, according to a March report from the city’s Workforce Development Board.

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Now some of those former workers are getting help. The California Economic Development Department has provided a $3 million grant to local government arms to help retrain 600 former employees.

The city’s Economic and Workforce Development Department will get $1.8 million. The Los Angeles County Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services division will receive $1.2 million.

“It’s going to be good to help get people back to work with this additional money,” said Jan Perry, general manager of the LAEWDD.

American Apparel filed for bankruptcy in 2015 and again the following year, and endured turmoil as founder Dov Charney was forced out. A series of rebound efforts proved unsuccessful, as did Charney’s attempts to re-acquire the company known for proudly proclaiming that its products were “Made in Downtown L.A.” The chain of American Apparel stores closed. In January, Gildan paid $88 million at an auction to acquire American Apparel’s intellectual property and some equipment.

The city and county will use the funds to train the former workers in computer skills, interviewing and on handling unemployment insurance. The Los Angeles Unified School District will offer English as a second language classes.

Since the layoffs, the LAEWDD has provided services to 756 former workers, Perry said. The department hosted a series of workshops in the first half of the year to inform them about available resources. The department also held a career fair.

Gildan has not revealed plans for the 800,000-square-foot factory in the Row DTLA complex. The lease runs until 2019.

The grant money covers workforce training through July 2018.

© Los Angeles Downtown News 2017