American Eagle has the money, power and influence to ensure the workers at its contractor’s warehouse are treated fairly and justly. Sure, they can sit back and take the easy road. AE uses the excuse: we don’t own the warehouse anymore…our hands are tied…we can’t do anything about it. That’s BS.
American Eagle’s do-nothing attitude is a slap in the face to workers around the world. It surprises me coming from an otherwise socially responsible company but their unwillingness to stand by workers’ rights demonstrates that AE wants to be responsible only when it is convenient (read: when there’s $$ to be made).
It’s August and we’re all in back-to-school mode. Vacations are wrapping up and “normal” routines begin to reemerge. Before heading to the mall in search of back-to-school clothes, I encourage you to join UNITE HERE’s Back-to-School Boycott of American Eagle Outfitters. Union members and college students joined together in June to launch this international boycott with the hopes of getting American Eagle to stop ignoring workers’ rights.
As I alluded to, the executives at American Eagle are hypocrites. They say they care about workers. The company’s own Code of Conduct requires contractors to respect the right of employees to form a union, yet workers at the warehouse, contracted to ship AE’s clothing in Canada, faced harassment and intimidation when they tried to improve conditions.
The workers at NLS wanted to organize because they hadn’t received raises in 2-3 years, lacked a fair process to move into permanent employment and dealt with daily disrespect from managers. When word got out, NLS management took out all the stops by hiring a US-based labor relations firm to stifle efforts to organize.
It is obvious American Eagle executives don’t want to stand up for workers’ rights. They continue to make excuses saying they don’t have any influence over NLS management. Come on now, we aren’t naïve. This is a multi-billion dollar company we’re working with here people. Moreover, American Eagle owned and operated the warehouse until early 2006 and AE is currently NLS’s largest client.
Bottom line: AE hasn’t taken any steps to enforce its Code of Conduct for Vendors and Contractors that specifically protects freedom of association. I hope you’ll join us as we prepare a student week of action September 10 – 16. Don’t worry – even if you’re not a student, we can still use your help. Here’s what you can do:
• Sign the American Eagle Back-to-School Boycott Pledge – Use the power of the purse strings to hold American Eagle accountable. They say they can’t do anything but they know they can. American Vulture.org
• Student Week of Action – Encourage your campus organizations to join in the week of action. Become a Campus Boycott Leader and participate in back-to-school boycott activities at your local American Eagle store.
• Volunteer – Distribute “American Vulture” materials around a college campus near you.
• Enter “Defeathering the Eagle” Contest – We’re looking for the best ads that mock American Eagle’s marketing and image. Details here.
Participating Colleges and Universities. Is your school on the list?
UC Santa Cruz
Santa Clara University
University of Miami
University of Toronto
University of Texas, San Antonio
Texas Christian University