'Garments may not be sold until full restitution is made to workers' - M. Patricia
M. Patricia Smith, Commissioner of Labor
State Labor Commissioner M. Patricia Smith announced that the Labor Department's Apparel Industry Task Force entered the headquarters of Suburban Textiles Inc (trading as Forest Uniform Corp), a garment manufacturer, and issued an Order confiscating all garments made at its facilities as well as all manufacturing equipment.
The Labor Department also affixed tags, to be removed only by the Labor Department, to garments produced by Technical Garment USA Co Inc, a contractor used by the manufacturer to produce some of its goods. Manufacturers in the garment industry commonly subcontract work out to contractors, as in this situation. The garments will remain confiscated and tagged until restitution has been made to underpaid workers.
Both the manufacturer, Forest Uniform Corp, and the contractor, Technical Garment USA Co Inc have been producing New York Police Department dress uniforms since at least 2007. The Labor Department has alerted the NYPD of its findings.
The manufacturer, Forest Uniform Corp., has been found in violation of state apparel registration law three times in the last three years. As a result, for the first time, the Labor Department utilized the Order of Confiscation provision in State Labor Law, which allows the Apparel Industry Task Force to confiscate apparel and equipment from any manufacturer or contractor found to be liable for two or more separate labor law violations during the preceding three-year period.
The Department's investigation prior to yesterday's raid uncovered numerous labor law violations by the manufacturer, Forest Uniform Corp., and the contractor, Technical Garment USA Co Inc, including the failure to maintain required payroll records and failure to register as a garment manufacturer in New York State. The contractor, Technical Garment USA Co., Inc., also failed to pay employees required overtime wages, despite assigned workweeks of up to 80 hours, and also violated the state's day of rest requirement. A total of nearly $500,000 is estimated to be owed in wages and damages to 16 workers.
“For too long, this employer and its contractor have flagrantly thumbed their noses at our investigators,” said Commissioner Smith. “Enough is enough. Our patience in this matter is over. Either pay your workers and get in compliance or we'll confiscate or tag every last shirt, jacket, and sock you produce.”
New York City Deputy Police Commissioner Paul J. Browne said, “The New York City Police Department has no contracts with, and makes no purchases from, any of the manufacturers or contractors identified in the Labor Department investigation. None of the uniforms sold to members of the service by the NYPD Equipment Section is from these manufacturers or contractors. However, the NYPD has authorized members of the service to purchase dress uniforms that are sold privately and that are manufactured by Forest Uniform. Dress uniforms are not worn for regular police duties, but for funerals and ceremonial occasions. Considering the seriousness of the Labor Department's findings, the Police Department has removed this manufacturer from its list of authorized vendors of dress uniforms from which members of the service may privately make future purchases.”