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Politics of Fashion: Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Celebrates American Apparel Milestones, Still Needs Buses

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Photo via AP

American Apparel held a press conference at its Downtown factory Tuesday to announce its latest accomplishments—namely, worldwide employment at 10,000 and hiring 3,500 employees since the beginning of the year (2,500 of which are manufacturing employees). Market Watch reports Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was there in support, making the following remarks:

"Over the past number of years, American Apparel has played an important role in the revitalization of downtown Los Angeles and has created thousands of jobs in the process. With the jobs that American Apparel has created so far this year, we are well on our way towards meeting my goal of creating 100,000 living wage jobs in Los Angeles by 2010. American Apparel has consistently demonstrated itself to be an innovative and responsible employer, dedicated to progressive labor practices. By issuing stock to its factory workers, American Apparel has again raised the bar for what it means to be a good employer. We welcome the creation of these new jobs and the additional investments American Apparel has made in Southern California; we are excited that they are committed to staying in Downtown LA for a long time to come."

But no word on American Apparel's transportation challenges (Villaraigosa is the chair of the MTA Board) from Union Station to the factory at 7th and Alameda. The LAT Bottleneck Blog reports, of the 5,000 employees who work there, those "who do want to reach Union Station by mass transit have to take a circuitous route that involves walking a few blocks to a bus that travels west into the heart of downtown, where they transfer to the subway. It's a journey that requires 31 minutes of travel time, not counting the initial walk to the bus...That's 31 minutes to travel 1.6 miles as the crow flies, which I compute to be 3.2 miles per hour. That's not slow. That's Stone Age." There was a bus line but it was closed for poor ridership a few years ago, leaving AA employees to either manage the bus ride (American Apparel sells subsidized monthly bus passes), bike, walk or drive to an already at capacity parking lot. One of the largest employers in the city, it looks like AA is in a bit of a bind if it wants to continue to grow at the rate it's going, and still be accessible to workers.
· Mayor Villaraigosa Congratulates American Apparel on Achieving Important Economic Milestones in Los Angeles [Market Watch]
· Does American Apparel deserve improved mass transit? [Bottleneck Blog]