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

BREAKING NEWS: U.S. Marine Corps did not renew sponsorship of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)

Las Vegas, Nevada – After a nationwide public outcry, the U.S. Marine Corps did not renew its sponsorship of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the Las Vegas-based promoter of cage fighting events.

“We applaud the Marine Corps for taking this important step that respects the dignity of our men and women in uniform,” said Beatriz Topete, a U.S. Army veteran and director of the Veterans Committee of UNITE HERE, a labor union that represents more than 250,000 workers in the hospitality industry in North America. “We believe it is time for other sponsors to follow the lead of the Marine Corps and sever all ties with the UFC.”

The decision by the Marine Corps follows months of outrage and media attention. Military veterans, LGBTQ activists and survivors of sexual assault publicly called on the Marine Corps to sever its ties with the UFC over violent, homophobic, misogynistic and otherwise socially irresponsible remarks made by UFC fighters and its president, Dana White. The campaign to end the UFC-Marine Corps partnership was supported by more than two dozen state and national organizations. They included the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence, Protect Our Defenders, National Institute of Military Justice, Veterans For Common Sense, Veterans For Peace, Veterans United For Truth, Women in the Military Project, and Sanctuary Project Veterans, as well as individual survivors of military sexual assault.

“This action by the Marine Corps is a step in the right direction. Military culture for too long has permitted degrading, violent and hate-filled speech and behavior towards men and women,” said Nancy Parrish, President of Protect Our Defenders, a national group that advocates for survivors of military sexual assault.

Popular UFC fighters have joked about rape on their public Twitter accounts, and made remarks that are demeaning towards women, gays and Latinos. In a disturbing video published in April on YouTube, UFC fighter Quinton “Rampage” Jackson pretends to sexually assault a woman in a parking garage using chloroform and zip ties. Jackson is scheduled to fight on the “UFC on FOX 6” event on Jan. 26th.

Other sponsors or business partners of the UFC include: Anheuser-Busch InBev, Edge Shaving Gel, Electronic Arts, FOX, Harley-Davidson Inc., MetroPCS Communications, MusclePharm, SafeAuto, Toyo Tires, TapouT, and XYIENCE Energy.

HEI Boycott Campaign in San Diego

My time this summer organizing with HEI hotel workers transformed the way I view meaningful activism. My time in San Diego was a key part of this.  Dozens of HEI worker leaders from across the country gathered with 12 summer organizers for two days of actions and inspirational meetings. We saw management avoid us when confronted with a large delegation of students and workers. We picketed with people of all generations as management attempted to physically block our action with busses and speakers.   And, perhaps most importantly, we met and shared our stories.

I learned that true change comes about as a result of sincere and diligent attention to the relationships I make, as well as listening, responding, and organizing my efforts according to the needs of others. Our boycott campaign to move business out of the Sheraton hotel in Crystal City is an ongoing struggle, but my time spent on it this summer has helped hone my abilities toward a sharper understanding of what it takes to defeat a company that seems powerful beyond relief. The longer I’ve fought, the more familiar I’ve become with how powerful the union really is, and I know that everyone I’ve worked with this summer at the hotel has what it takes to beat HEI.

Matthew, 2012 Summer Organizer, Washington D.C

San Diego UFC Delegation

“The delegation was an opportunity that brought to life the UFC petition we had been asking people to sign. The recruiter we spoke with seemed surprised by what we had to say and was receptive of the information.” – Victoria, 2012 Summer Organizer, San Diego

“The delegation was a good learning experience. We saw how delegations work and although the Marine recruiter we saw was really receptive, I know delegations won’t always go so smoothly.” – Esteban, 2012 Summer Organizer, San Diego

Above Photo (L-R): 2012 San Diego Summer Organizers: Victoria, Esteban, and Minerva.

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!”