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California gives $3 million to help 600 laid-off American Apparel workers

American Apparel's headquarters in downtown Los Angeles housed 2,166 workers.
Ben Bergman/KPCC
American Apparel's headquarters in downtown Los Angeles.

More help is on the way for former American Apparel workers who lost their job when the company was sold earlier this year, but only some of them will benefit.

The California Employment Development Department announced that it has awarded $3 million to the city of Los Angeles Economic and Workforce Development Department and the County of Los Angeles Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services to assist 600 former workers. Some 3,000 American Apparel employees in downtown L.A., La Mirada and South Gate were laid off in January, according to the state.

"These were the people who decided to avail themselves of our offer," explained Jan Perry, general manager of the city's Economic and Workforce Development Department. "It’s their choice to participate in what we have to offer."

Close to 300 of the former employees have gone to work for Los Angeles Apparel, the new venture from American Apparel founder Dov Charney. Perry says others may have decided to retire or already found new jobs.

Those who signed up for training will receive help with vocational and computer skills, career counseling, and assistance with their resumes and unemployment insurance claims. Many of the workers have limited English-language skills, according to the state.

The aim is for people to stick with what they know and remain in the same field, says Perry, even though clothing manufacturing isn’t exactly a growth industry.

"That's the most straightforward goal, to make them competitive in the profession they were already in," she says. "But all doors are open."

The grant covers training through July 2018, and comes in addition to federal funds from the Trade Adjustment Assistance program awarded last month, which provides money to American workers who've lost their jobs due to global competition or outsourcing.