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

Adiós Arpaio: Organizing The New Arizona

“My name is Karen. I am 16 years old and I attend Westview High School in Avondale, Arizona. I have been a volunteer with the Adiós Arpaio campaign for two months. Becoming a part of this campaign, where I can fight for the change I want in Arizona, has been the greatest decision I’ve made in my life.

On November 6, 2012, Election Day, I skipped school to go out and canvass with the campaign. I was out volunteering from 7 A.M. until 7 P.M, knocking from door to door making sure people took their last chance to vote. On Tuesday night I knew Arpaio was in the lead. On Wednesday, I woke up with a sick feeling knowing Arpaio was the winner. I am not going to lie: I cried. I never cry in my life so it was very strange. But in that moment, I had lost all my hope of Arizona ever changing.

That same Wednesday, in class, I received a text from my organizer telling me that there were over 500,000 ballots in Maricopa County that had not been counted yet. I felt disgusted to be a part of a county in which this was allowed to happen. I was upset, angry, and frustrated all at the same time. On Thursday, I woke up and said to myself “I am NOT going to let them think that this is right. I am NOT going to let them think that I am going to stand for this. I am NOT going to sit down at home and watch this happen. I need to get out there and fight with the campaign because I’m done with all the injustices Maricopa County makes.”

That same Thursday I went out and protested. That was when I realized in matter of seconds that all hope wasn’t lost because so many volunteers had come out. Election Day was over and all these people still cared.

I loved being out there with UNITE HERE, but I also felt that our protests should not be necessary. We shouldn’t have to be protesting every day and keeping an eye on them just so they would count all the votes—something they should have done no matter what.

I went out and protested with the campaign almost every day until a week later, Thursday, November 15, 2012, we had a massive protest. Over 500 people showed up to support us. It was amazing to see that we were not alone. Every single person took the time out of their day to spend it protesting with our campaign.

That day changed the way I saw Arizona. It helped me see that Arizona could really change. These people who came out were just a small percentage of those who supported us. Arizona can be the state we want it to be, the state known for good things not for cruel and racial things like SB1070 and Sheriff Arpaio. I believe that with our votes and our voices we can change Arizona.

Just after Thanksgiving, our directors had a meeting with the Secretary of State Ken Bennett where he agreed with us that the election shouldn’t have been such a mess. Then the Secretary of State said he wanted OUR help to fix the election counting system in Arizona. When I found out about it this it made me feel really accomplished because that was the moment when I realized that all the protesting we did had not been for nothing. Our voices had been heard.

If Arizona forgets all this and goes back to its old ways, I know I am NOT going to forget what happened. I am NOT going to ever stand for anything like this again in Arizona. I am NOT going to let them think that they can play their old tricks on us. And I am definitely NOT going to ever stop fighting for what is right.” – Karen, Phoenix

Top Photo: Veterans standing with Adiós Arpaio and UNITE HERE in demanding every vote count in Arizona.
Bottom Photo: Karen celebrating another successful day of canvassing.

To Learn more about the Adiós Arpaio Campaign watch this inspirational video:


Northern California to Arizona Freedom Ride

Hello, my name is Justin and I would like to tell you about my second trip to Arizona to help register voters as part of the Adios Arpaio campaign. The decision to drive a van of twelve people fourteen hours each way to register voters was an easy one to make. The struggle for Immigrant workers dignity in Arizona is the most important thing I could do ever with my weekend and I had eleven other people with me who agreed. Arizona’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio was one of the key proponents of SB1070 and has led its enforcement in Maricopa County. Because this was my second trip to Arizona, it gave me a little perspective on what to expect on the ground.  The thing I would never have expected was the hard work and amazing results Union Organizers and community volunteers in Phoenix had accomplished in such little time. My first trip in July of this year, I recall the numbers of registrations the Union had helped facilitate as close to ten thousand. Over those two months the volunteers and Union Organizers had garnered a total of twenty five thousand voter registrations. Less than two weeks after our trip, the final numbers of voters registered would be thirty our thousand. I remember two of the most amazing volunteers were two young men who were brothers. These brothers were an inspiring duo. I watched one of them register sixteen voters in a four hour period and the other power map a local library like a pro because he wanted to be able to register voters inside and not at the curb. It was inspiring for all of us to volunteer our time for something we believe in and deepened my commitment to the Union Movement in America.

– Justin, 2012 OBB Summer Organizer

Voter Registration Campaign in Phoenix

Over fifty leaders from around the West Coast and New Mexico brought their fire to Phoenix this weekend, pushing the intensity of our fight against the climate of fear in Arizona—home of SB 1070—to new heights. Clothed in red shirts and burning with se-puede spirit, we registered hundreds of new voters who will stand together this November to unseat the notorious Sheriff Joe Arpaio and continue to build the political voice of the Latino and immigrant community.

On Saturday, we went to the lavish and exploitative non-union hotel resorts of Scottsdale with the goal of registering workers there to vote. General managers responded to our wish of expanding civic engagement with anger, hatred, and fear. But their responses only united and fueled us all to fight even harder on Sunday, when we registered even more voters and challenged people in churches, parks, and shopping centers to stand up and build power in their communities. Finally, on Mondamorning, we delegated the Hyatt Scottsdale, where workers have been publicly demanding a fair process to decide on  unionization for nearly two years.

There, worker leaders from the Hyatt in Santa-Clara reminded their former general manager that he cannot hide — workers everywhere are united in fighting for respect and safety in the workplace.

For me, the success of the weekend was a testament to what can happen when people join together in struggle and realize their power—even for a short time. In total, we registered nearly 400 people to vote during the weekend and added to what the team on the ground had already accomplished in the week to arrive at a total of 1,047 new registered voters in one week!  “Adios Arpaio” is not just our slogan, it is a reality that we have the power to create. I’m so proud to be part of Unite Here’s work, and I’m thankful to have met so many fierce leaders who will inspire me far into the future to keep fighting.

Gabrielle, 2012 Summer Organizer, Phoenix

 

“My trip to Arizona to volunteer with the local in Phoenix as well as the Adios Arpaio campaign was a very memorable experience. It was inspiring to see so many people united for a cause and working very hard in order to make create real changes in Arizona that will impact many people. I was amazed to learn that the campaign to register voters in Phoenix started in April, and would be continuing up through the elections in November. The people who are registering voters spend several hours each day canvassing in extreme heat, but they do it with a smile on their face because they know how crucial it is to register voters and that the stakes in this election are very high. It is exhausting work, and I have nothing but admiration for the people in Arizona who continue with this hard work, day after day, despite the harsh weather conditions and often negative response from citizens in Arizona. The trip to Arizona made me understand even more deeply how this situation effects real people and destroys families. It made all the news reports and stories of police harassment much more real to me, and as a result I am planning on returning to Arizona in the fall in order to help out with the final get out the vote push before the
election.” Esteban, 2012 Summer Organizer, San Diego

“I had never canvassed before, so it was a challenging yet really motivating experience to push people to register to vote. I was inspired by all those who canvass in Arizona every day and by all the hard work they have done in their efforts to get Arpaio out of the Sheriff position.” Victoria, 2012 Summer Organizer, San Diego

“My visit to Arizona was a huge eye opener for me. It made me get out of my comfort zone and go out there and try to make a difference. It was the first time I canvassed and spent hours trying to get people to register to vote. There were a lot of older citizens that seem to love what Sheriff Joe Arpaio is doing which disappointed me a lot. And it is unfortunate that those who really want Arpaio out of office are not able to vote because they are undocumented. Even though it was a huge challenge to find those who wanted him out and could register to vote, we were able to reach our goal.” – Duceani, 2012 Summer Organizer, San Diego

First Photo: Inside the Monte Lucia, the Summer Organizers were asking to be able to register the workers at this non-union hotel to vote.

Second Photo: The Summer Organizers learning about the connections between hospitality industry employers and Sherriff Arpaio.

Third Photo: Voter registration inside WalMart: The only appropriate use of a shopping cart in WalMart is to be able to do voter registration!

Fourth Photo: San Diego Summer Organizers (L-R: Esteban, Duceani and Ashley) getting ready to register voters in
the Phoenix neighborhoods.

Fifth Photo: Group Photo.

Sixth Photo: Doing voter registration in the Phoenix neighborhoods. “Gotta go, Joe!”

Phoenix Rising!

Phoenix Rising!

I was raised in Phoenix. I’ve never seen the Latino community mobilize like this. Me and my fellow summer organizers had to create a massive volunteer structure to do it, but we were successful in organizing the Latino community in the neighborhood where I grew up. I’m proud of myself, I’m proud of this program, I’m proud of my friends who fought and struggled beside me, and I’m proud of Phoenix. – Emmanuel, Summer Organizer, PhoenixPhoenix Rising!Phoenix Rising Three

 

 

Phoenix: an Effective Message!

This past Sunday, three of us Summer Organizers in Phoenix teamed up to visit three CVS stores around the Valley and share information with the CVS stores about one of their vendors, LSG Sky Chefs. Unexpectedly, with all the similar visits that Summer Organizers are doing across the country, one of the stores seemed to have already received the message!Delegating!

We asked to speak to the supervisor and he quickly refused, telling us to come back when the store manager was there. It must have been apparent that we were there to talk about the LSG Sky Chefs products, and that the store manager had warned the staff about us.

After that, a security guard prohibited us from handing out fliers to spread knowledge of the concerns about Sky Chefs products. It was clear to us from CVS’ response that the store had received the information.

Whether it was through a previous visit, or a message from corporate, the word is getting out successfully! Spreading knowledge has never been so sweet.

-Bella, Summer Organizer, Phoenix