Victory Lap – NYC Delegation to American Eagle Headquarters

 

New York, NY – “The action on Friday for the American Eagle campaign was exciting and eventful. Being part of the leading delegation at the headquarters I watched as the Bangladesh garment workers union representative, Amin, and Unite Here’s Local 100 Organizer, Milan, spoke with an executive. The conversation went well despite the fact that security forcibly pushed us out. This particular action did get the attention of the company. Afterward, at the Gap, we were able to have conversations with two managers and had a successful mike check and leafleting drive. Lastly, we gave the managers at American Eagle the petitions and congratulated them, who seemed to respond positively. Overall the actions were fun and felt like they made an impact.

– Shamima, NYC Research

As some of you may have already heard, our OBB, Organizing Beyond Barriers, Summer Organizers have led a very impressive campaign with American Eagle, pressuring the company to sign the historic Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety—which has ended in VICTORY!

We received word from our allies that American Eagle had agreed to sign the accord as of Thursday of last week. The next day they changed the Corporate Social Responsibility page on their website to read that, indeed, they were publicly acknowledging that they had signed the accord! This is the binding agreement that many international labor groups helped craft, not the non-binding, extremely weak Walmart-Gap agreement that became public the same day.

Our allies in this effort have made it very clear that the reason for American Eagle’s decision in contrast to other retailers is the relentless ground campaign that we ran, which included 40 delegations and over 12,000 signatures collected on petitions in only 4 weeks culminating in a NYC-OBB-Team-led delegation to Corporate Headquarters alongside Amin, the president of the Bangladeshi Garment Workers Union.

In Prayer and Solidarity

– Stuart Mora, American Eagle Outfitters Campaign Coordinator for Organizing Beyond Barriers

“I am a student-writer at San Diego City College and a Summer Organizer with OBB reporting briefly from two intense days of learning and actions in L.A.  In particular, I was affected by the actions taken at the American Eagle stores in Los Angeles.  As many of us know, the story of UNITE HERE includes more than a century in the textile and clothing industries.  The action against American Eagle connected us to this history while advocating for workers in another part of the world.  When we performed the delegation I felt we made a connection with abused workers not only in Bangladesh but around the world.

When the delegation began, for a few seconds I was frightened…what gave me strength was to think on all the workers and children that died in the worst garment factory accident ever; only because corporations are too greedy to care about workers. I could finally hear my voice, at first with fear, later, I did not care who was watching me. We cannot show fear when fighting for the rights of workers.  When it was time to leaflet outside the store and talk to customers passing by, it was empowering to see that you don’t need to be an expert to raise awareness and create consciousness among the public, you just have to put yourself out there and take a stand. I liked seeing how each of the participants had a unique way to get the message across. And in the end, we delivered the message!  One woman told me , This is eye opening for me; I didn’t realize the suffering of other people, we are really lucky.

In the end, learning that American Eagle signed the Agreement on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh is a lesson we can never forget; the people have power when fighting in solidarity.  It’s an achievement we earned together. The passion and hard work of many of us together made the change.  With our actions we are building bridges with all workers.”

 

Sandra, San Diego OBB Summer Organizer

We came to punish the glutton with a substance that can’t be contained, FOOD Brand Foods ©

Press Coverage:

MarketWatch (Wall Street Journal) – http://www.marketwatch.com/story/unite-here-international-labor-rights-forum-and-bangladeshi-garment-workers-president-announce-american-eagle-as-latest-retailer-to-join-bangladesh-safety-accord-2013-07-12?reflink=MW_news_stmp

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/business/news/american-eagle-agrees-to-sign-accord-on-safety-in-bangladesh-garment-industry-695220/

Woman’s Wear Daily http://www.wwd.com/fashion-news/fashion-scoops/american-eagle-signs-on-7050837

American Eagle Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/americaneagle/posts/10151654874619039

ILRF http://www.laborrights.org/creating-a-sweatfree-world/sweatshops/sweatshop-fires-in-bangladesh/news/nite-here-international-lab

Fibre2Fashion http://www.fibre2fashion.com/news/apparel-news/newsdetails.aspx?news_id=148597

Just-Style http://www.just-style.com/analysis/social-media-misses-the-mark-when-it-matters_id118450.aspx

Union Square – Action at American Eagle

New York, NY – In response to the recent garment factory collapse in Bangladesh, Local 100 research interns and OBB summer organizers petitioned at American Eagle’s Union Square branch, asking passersby to demand that AEO sign the Bangladash Fire & Building Safety Accord.

“The manager kicked us out of the store within 5 minutes, but that didn’t stop us from leafleting on the street!”

– Caitlin, NYC Research

“It was great to hit the streets and talk to people about AEO’s [failure] to sign onto an international accord guaranteeing independent safety and fire hazard building inspections at factories it sources from in Bangladesh. Many people were receptive to what we had to say, and I’m excited to see more people get involved in the coming weeks.”

– Antonina, NYC Research

“My name is Melissa and I am a Unite Here OBB summer research intern and a graduate of Colgate University and the CUNY Murphy Institute.

On Friday, June 14, 2013 and Tuesday, June 19, 2013, Unite Here OBB Summer Interns distributed flyers and petitions to customers inside of the American Eagle stores on 14th street and 34th street as well as to the general public outside of the stores to inform them of the retailer’s refusal to sign the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord. The American Eagle Company is one of the few North American retail companies that have declined to participate in the Accord. The Accord would demand that companies conduct safety inspections in factories and allocate funds towards improved security measures. The Accord is particularly relevant at this time given the attention to the factory disasters in Bangladesh. Therefore, the Accord can help to alleviate some of the problems factory workers face every day on the job.

My fellow OBB interns, volunteers, and I engaged politely with individuals inside and outside of the stores to solicit their support for the workers who work in these factories in Bangladesh. Small delegations of interns were sent to speak with the managers in the stores to request that they call on the company to join the Accord. Some people were not aware of the conditions of factories in Bangladesh and the recent incidences that occurred and others refused to sign the petitions because they did not have the time to stop or were reluctant to make a commitment to the cause. Some of the individuals that worked in the stores refused to accept the flyers and sign the petitions out of fear of retaliation by the company.

On November 24, 2012, a fire at the Tazreen Fashions factory in Bangladesh killed over 100 workers who manufacture clothes for large retailers in the United States and only two months ago, the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh collapsed killing over 1,000 people. Although many of the factories in Bangladesh have been declared unsafe, they continue to employ many workers. Unite Here is committed to the safety and improved working conditions of workers around the world. Workplace health and safety issues are not new to the union. In 1911, a fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory killed 146 workers who were members of the ILGWU. UNITE HERE was formed out of the merger of the ILGWU (International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union and the ACWA (Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America), the men’s clothing workers union, and the Hotel Employee and Restaurant Employees International Union (HERE). Hojiwashere

Overall, the action was effective at communicating with the public about the importance and necessity of American Eagle to sign the Accord. The needs of factory workers in Bangladesh are the same as all workers around the world, such as sustainable wages, job security, workplace health and safety, and employment benefits. Regardless of workers’ nationalities, health and safety is an essential component of one’s working conditions. It is not only important from a social and public health perspective, but also a moral issue, which recognizes that all people have human rights.”

– Melissa, NYC Research