Los Angeles Apparel workers say they were left in the dark as COVID-19 swept through plant, killing 4

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Los Angeles Apparel holds a health and safety training session for its employees on July 15, 2020, after the South L.A. garment factory was shut down by county officials due to more than 300 coronavirus cases and four worker deaths. (Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles Apparel holds a health and safety training session for its employees on July 15, 2020, after the South L.A. garment factory was shut down by county officials due to more than 300 coronavirus cases and four worker deaths. (Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

As the months passed, people began disappearing. Chairs once occupied by garment workers inside the Los Angeles Apparel factory sat empty. Rumors circulated about how the missing workers had gotten sick, or even died, of COVID-19.

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.

One morning in June, after word spread that several employees had died, workers decided to stage an action. Dozens in one of the company’s plants stood by their stations and refused to sew for nearly two hours, demanding better sanitation.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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