Chicago, IL – “Upon arriving at Water Tower we quickly strategized outside then proceeded to the action. We took the escalator up to the sixth floor and had one more short prep session. We walked into American Eagle and immediately asked to speak with the manager on duty. A young lady who looked to be about 25 informed us that there were several on duty but that she could help us. I told her about the conditions of many of the American Eagle facilities overseas and of course she was not aware. I also told her about the Bangladesh accord that American Eagle had not signed on to yet and she was not aware of that either. After several more uncomfortable questions one of her fellow managers came to her aid and promised us he would contact someone in their corporate office. We left the register and talked to the few customers that were in the store and left fliers in the pants and shirt pockets.
After about 15 minutes of leafleting the store we were asked to leave by the same manager that we approached. After a few awkward minutes of back and forth we left the store. Then right on queue mall security walked up to the store and told us there was to be no soliciting in Water Tower and asked us to leave. Even though we were not soliciting anything we complied and followed mall security down the escalators. Initially there was one man but by the time we reached the doors to the street there were about five or six of them.
This was a great action that I learned a lot from. First I learned that the employees are just as clueless as the customers. That is, the company does not inform them about their business practices. Not even the store managers knew. I was a bit surprised that they did not know anything about what had happened in Bangladesh either. I also learned that the employees are not on the board. What I mean by this is that they don’t make the decisions as to where American Eagles builds factories. The employees do not make the decision to exploit workers in foreign lands. It felt good to know that I was helping them learn about the true practices of their employer. Finally I learned that it is not hard to get kicked out of a shopping mall. Overall the action was very fun and I am excited to do more of them. It feels good being apart of something bigger, knowing that this was going on simultaneously in 20 other cities. I believe that the strategy will work because after about ten minutes of being in the store we got one of the managers on the phone with corporate. If they receive enough of those calls something will change.”
– Erik 22, OBB Chicago Local 1