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Employees: Working at Factory-2-U without air conditioning like a 'sweatshop'

Posted at 9:33 PM, Aug 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-23 01:27:02-04

Employees of one Valley store say their working conditions are like a sweatshop. 

The air conditioning has been out for months at the Chandler location of Factory-2-U, a discount retail store.

Customers and employees reached out to ABC15 asking for help because the problems have not been fixed, despite numerous complaints that date back months.

The inside of the store was at least 98 degrees in some areas Wednesday. The doors were also open, and employees said it has been much hotter in recent weeks.

Customers could barely shop in the sweltering store.

"I had to leave, it was way too hot," said Juan, who stayed in the store for a few minutes.

"Five minutes, max, I had to go. I couldn’t stand it," said Alma, another short-term shopper.

Employees have been forced to work in the hot store for months, with only two frivolous box fans and a portable A/C unit.

"I don’t even know how they stand in there, I think it’s hotter in there more than out here," said Juan.

"They are hot, they are dying, they are drenched," said Destiny Villa, referring to the employees inside.

Villa knows the struggle firsthand. She worked in the store for six months before quitting last week.

"I was constantly getting sick, so it’s not good for me nor my child," she said, six months pregnant with her first child.

The property management company told ABC15 that the individual stores are responsible for their air conditioning. Factory-2-U is owned by Fallas Discount Stores, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in August of 2018.

Fallas Discount Stores did not respond to phone calls, tweets, or emails sent Wednesday evening seeking comment on the conditions inside the store.

The Chandler location of Factory-2-U is also not the only location without cold air flowing. ABC15 confirmed at least one Phoenix store has also been without air conditioning for months.

Villa said she had to quit for her unborn baby's health, but her former co-workers are continuing to sweat it out because they need the paycheck. They told ABC15 they really need the company to do the right thing and turn on the air conditioning.

"You have to pay bills one way or another, and if you have to work in a sweatshop to do that then so be it," said Villa.

Employees told ABC15 that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) came to the store twice in recent months, but so far nothing has changed. Employees also said the parent company is aware of the conditions they face every day.

Employees said a regional manager visited a few weeks ago and worked there for a day to "prove it could be done."