Rick Rice (L.A.)
SAN FRANCISCO -- Former workers of two defunct garment manufacturers will receive $281,500 for the payment of wages owed under a settlement approved today in bankruptcy court, Lloyd W. Aubry Jr., Director of the Department of Industrial Relations, announced.
Former workers for Moviestar Garment Manufacturing and Ocean Garment Manufacturing were left with unpaid wages after a series of facility closures and organizational changes, which ultimately resulted in a bankruptcy proceeding. The State Labor Commissioner received wage claims from many of the workers and was involved in the litigation to recover the unpaid wages, along with the U.S. Department of Labor and various advocacy groups.
Under a settlement approved today in United States Bankruptcy Court, $281,500 will be paid by the bankruptcy trustee to a Worker's Pool which will be distributed to claimants of unpaid wages. Of that amount, approximately $102,000 will be set aside to pay the final pre-petition wage claims. These claims, filed before legal action was undertaken, will be considered priority in the settlement.
"We are extremely pleased to see such a positive resolution of this protracted matter," Aubry said. "The amount involved represents one of our biggest recoveries of unpaid wages involving a bankruptcy proceeding."
Last week, the Labor Commissioner's office, in conjunction with the International Ladies Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU), conducted a meeting with former Moviestar and Ocean Garment employees to discuss the settlement and how the monies will be distributed. Over 150 former employees attended the meeting.
"The number of workers at the meeting demonstrates the importance of this matter and the dedication of the people involved," said Aubry, whose attorneys represented over a hundred of the workers in a San Francisco Superior Court action and in bankruptcy court, as well as in the recovery process.
Aubry noted that under the Targeted Industries Partnership Program (TIPP), which enforces employment laws in the garment and agricultural industries, efforts to collect unpaid wages in the garment industry now are better coordinated and have improved enforcement. TIPP is a federal-state joint educational and enforcement effort whose lead agencies are the Labor Commissioner's office and the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage & Hour Division. In its first year, TIPP identified over $1.25 million in estimated wages due garment workers and assessed civil penalties totaling over $4 million in the garment industry, he said.