Port drivers took to the street with protest signs outside of Skechers headquarters during the company's annual shareholders meeting last Friday. They say it's time for Skechers enforce a code of conduct on its contractors and subcontractors to address labor conditions.
When questioned about allegations of sweat-shop conditions and labor law violations, Jennifer Clay, spokesperson for Skechers, said the company is reviewing the accusations, but had no further comment on the subject last Friday, May 23, following Thursday's demonstration.
Outside company's headquarters on South Sepulveda Boulevard in Manhattan Beach, demonstrators alleged a pattern of abuses at the hands of Skechers contracting and subcontracting companies. A copy of a preliminary report released by labor advocacy organization, LAANE, states that Skechers contractors and subcontractors are violating labor laws and that working conditions at the California distribution center and often unsafe and inhumane. It also accuses the footwear company of illegal firings and abusive actions against immigrant workers.
Justice for Port Driver's spokesperson Barb Maynard said during the demonstration on Thursday that it is time for Skechers to enforce codes of conduct on the contracting companies, much like their competitors such as Nike, Reebok and Adidas have done. These popular apparel companies are now demanding their contractors provide fair, healthy, safe and legal working conditions and treatment. Maynard and the other demonstrators insist that Skechers follow suit.
Maynard has many stories of allegedly illegal and unethical firings.
“For example, a Green Fleet Systems driver whose wife was being rushed to the hospital due to having a miscarriage and when he requested to have his truckload handled by someone else while he saw to his family emergency, that if he handed over his truck to another worker and went to the hospital to take care of his wife, that he would be fired,” she said. “It's time for Skechers to be accountable and responsible.”
Demonstrators gathered and delivered 25,000 signatures on various petitions to ask that Skechers demand their contractors to abide by labor laws and uphold ethical standards.
LAANE's preliminary report presented to the shareholders on Thursday, May 23, states “worker testimony has revealed poor working conditions at both of Skechers' contractors. At its trucking contractor, port drivers have experienced illegal wage reductions by their employer and described an atmosphere of intimidation and coercion. At its warehouse contractor, state regulators found health and safety violations and workers report unsafe conditions like exposure to extreme heat, blocked exits and inadequate training and protective equipment … As an increasingly successful brand, Skechers must swiftly address these issues and develop polices to ensure they are not the norm though out its supply chain.”
LAANE is a co-founder of the Partnership for Working Families, a rapidly growing national alliance fighting for good jobs and healthy communities in nearly 20 major metropolitan areas.
LAANE and its leadership have received numerous honors, including awards from the Mayor of Los Angeles, the Speaker of the California Assembly, the UCLA School of Law and the Los Angeles Roman Catholic Archdiocese.