By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell (D) from Selma released a written statement regarding American Apparel’s recent announcement on impending layoffs.
Representative Sewell said “I am deeply disappointed in the recent decision by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) not to award the Army Combat Uniform coats contract to American Apparel Inc. I am especially frustrated by this recent decision in light of my office’s continued efforts to strengthen DLA’s critical partnership with American Apparel. At my request, key DLA procurement officials visited American Apparel headquarters in Selma in April 2012 to tour its facility and discuss DLA’s procurement process with company management. During this visit we engaged in intense dialogue about the future of the military uniform industrial base and how companies like American Apparel can remain competitive. While I had hoped this meeting would have resulted in a more meaningful outcome, DLA’s recent decision reflects the same industry frustrations and concerns with its current procurement process.”
Rep. Sewell continued, “This decision will have profound economic implications for the more than 250 hardworking women and men affected by the impending lay-offs. I strongly support American Apparel’s protest petition to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and I am leading an Alabama Delegation letter requesting a thorough and expedited review of American Apparel’s protest. On Friday, September 28th I spoke directly with DLA officials and expressed my deep concerns with the procurement process that lead to this decision. This week, I will issue a letter to DLA further elaborating on my objection to the manner in which the procurement decision was made.”
American Apparel makes military clothing in Selma and in Fayette AL., its contract has been awarded to Federal Prison Industries (FPI) which will replace private industry workers with inmates. According to reporting by FoxNews, under a 1930 federal law, “FPI has the first right of refusal for U.S. Government contracts,” according to a Fox News report. American Apparel charges $29.44 per uniform. FPI, the government-backed company that uses inmates, charges the government $34.18 per uniform, or about 15 percent more.
The Defense Logistics Agency says that federal law requires federal agencies to buy products from FPI, even if they cost taxpayers more like the military uniforms.
In a prepared statement, Julie Rozier, an FPI spokeswoman, said “FPI’s (production) percentage has remained fairly consistent over the past decade, with slight declines. FPI is a program that directly protects society by reducing crime and preparing inmates for successful release back into society to become law-abiding citizens; FPI does not receive a congressional appropriation for its operations.”
Congresswoman Sewell represents Alabama’s Seventh Congressional District. Her Republican opponent in the November 6th General Election is Don Chamberlain.