Garment workers protest layoffs

More than 100 Chinese immigrant garment workers marched from San Francisco's Union Square to protest outside Nova Knits Inc., in the South of Market area Tuesday, contending the company has violated federal layoff and plant-closure laws.

Last month, the knitting factory fired more than 80 Chinese immigrant workers with an hour's notice and no severance, following dozens of dismissals that began in September 2004. The company, which had 150 employees last fall, now has fewer than two dozen employees, said Leon Chow, chairman of the Chinese Progressive Association, which organized the rally.

The federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act requires employers to give a written notice of 60 days before the date of a mass dismissal or a plant closure.

Nova's attorney, Norman Zilber, said the company was examining the act. "My client lost money over the last three years because Chinese goods are so much cheaper than U.S.-made goods," he said.

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