Specialized and others failed to pay workers $2 million

Specialized Workers
A new report by the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) found that 831 employees of the APS factory in El Salvador were wrongfully denied US $2 million in compensation after the factory shut down in August 2022.


As Unpaid Workers’ Families Go Hungry, Green America Urges Companies to Step in;  

To Date, Hanes Has Offered “Miniscule” Support, Specialized Totally Unresponsive to Pleas for Help. 

WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 20, 2024 – A new report by the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) found that 831 employees of the APS factory in El Salvador were wrongfully denied US $2 million in compensation after the factory shut down in August 2022. The workers, who were manufacturing products for Hanesbrands (Hanes) and Specialized Bicycle Components (Specialized), were legally owed unpaid wages, severance and other terminal benefits as determined by the Salvadoran Ministry of Labor. 

Following initial engagement by the WRC, two lesser-known brands committed to paying the workers two thirds of the unpaid total, US $1.34 million. While US $659,000 of the unpaid compensation currently remains outstanding, Hanes has offered a “miniscule” amount of money, and Specialized has offered nothing.  

Green America, a member of the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC), has delivered 10K petitions and signed on 30 organizations in support of the APS workers. It urges Hanes and Specialized to help the people in their supply chains through meaningful financial contributions. After Green America activists delivered petitions directly to the Specialized headquarters in Morgan Hill, California, the company blocked email domains of several organizations that attempted to reach out on behalf of the workers. 

Jean Tong, Labor Justice Campaigns Director at Green America, said: “We stand in solidarity with the garment workers of El Salvador to advocate for wage justice. At Green America, we believe in the collective power of consumers. By choosing where we spend our money, we can encourage businesses to adopt fair labor practices. We urge Specialized and Hanes to immediately join other companies that have committed to accountability and pay the workers for their labor.”   

Eric Arce, former Specialized Ambassador, said: “As cyclists, we have a powerful platform to advocate for justice within the bicycle supply chains. Wearing a Specialized bike jersey should symbolize our commitment to the sport and our trust in the company, including its value to promote human rights along its supply chain. No rider wants to be complicit in workers' exploitation. By speaking out against wage theft and demanding transparency, we contribute to a cycle of respect and dignity for all workers involved in making our rides possible.” 

According to the report, during the more than one year since the APS factory closed, workers have reported experiencing significant hardships as a result of the nonpayment of their owed wages, severance, and other terminal compensation. Workers testified to the WRC that they were unable to pay rent, utility bills and children’s school fees. Many also told the WRC that they were not able to pay for medical care or buy enough food to eat for their families. 

Salvadoran labor law explicitly states that when a factory closes, its workers must immediately receive all unpaid wages and terminal compensation that are legally due. According to calculations prepared by the Salvadoran Ministry of Labor, the 831 former employees at APS were owed US $2 million. Moreover, the supplier codes of conduct of major apparel corporations like Hanes uniformly require that workers at their supplier factories receive all legally required wages and benefits. 

“We are waiting for APS to pay us the money they owe us,” said Rhina, a former worker at APS.  

Another worker, Patricia, is struggling to put food on the table for her family: “My kids and I are only able to eat rice, beans and eggs.” 

On its sustainability webpage, Specialized claims to promote human rights in its supply chain. Hanes claims to directly manage the social practices in its supply chain to stay connected with the communities that are part of its global business. However, both companies’ willingness to see these standards violated and refusal to engage with the vulnerable workers who made their products suggest otherwise. 


Green America is the nation’s leading green economy organization. Founded in 1982, Green America provides the economic strategies, organizing power and practical tools for businesses and individuals to solve today’s social and environmental problems. http://www.GreenAmerica.org 

MEDIA CONTACT: Max Karlin for Green America, (703) 276-3255, or mkarlin@hastingsgroupmedia.com.