For immediate release
August 12, 2005
Garment Workers File Discrimination Complaint with Equal Employment Opportunity Office
Workers Make Military Uniforms at American Power Source
Jackson, MS-On August 9th, workers from military uniform contractor American Power Source joined with state legislators, civil rights activists and union leaders to announce the filing of a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. At the AFL-CIO’s state headquarters, workers Annie Williams and Stephanie Erby were joined by State Reps. Jim Evans and Eric Fleming and by Rev. Rims Barber, who supported the workers’ efforts to fight discrimination on the job.
The complaint contains allegations that African-American sewing machine operators, the majority of the workers at the plant, have been recalled from a layoff earlier this year at a far lower rate than comparably-skilled white employees. Furthermore, black workers have had their wages slashed by as much as $3 per hour over the last six months; many workers now earn just above minimum wage. The EEOC complaint, signed by approximately 20 workers, is another example of ongoing mistreatment and disrespect by managers at the Columbus plant. As Ms. Williams, a sewing operator, said, “We take pride in making these uniforms and [APS] should take pride in doing right by these people.”
American Power Source is a uniform contractor that supplies military uniforms for our country’s soldiers and employs over 200 people in Columbus. The company, whose sole customer is the U.S. Government and has received over $32 million from the Department of Defense since 2002, pays workers poverty wages and fails to provide safe working conditions. Additionally, the company has been charged with a Federal labor law violation and faces an additional pending charge.
Representatives from the Hinds County Democratic Executive Committee, the Jackson NAACP chapter, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance were present at the event. Also present were members of the Communications Workers-including state employees, telecommunications, and city workers-the IBEW, the Laborers, and the Plumbers unions.
Workers at American Power Source have been fighting for a fair process to join the union since March of this year.