For immediate release
September 14, 2007
Nell Geiser, UNITE HERE
James Douglas, United Students Against Sweatshops, 613-878-4053
Matthew Brockman, Student Labor Action Project, 914-907-0567
September 12– As classes resume, students at more than twenty campuses across North America are participating in a Week of Action to spread the word about the ongoing boycott of teen retailer American Eagle Outfitters.
The back-to-school boycott was called by student groups and the union UNITE HERE to protest workers’ rights abuses at American Eagle’s Canadian distribution contractor, National Logistics Services, where workers faced harassment and intimidation when they sought to improve conditions by forming a union. American Eagle’s Code of Conduct for Contractors requires protection for freedom of association.
“American Eagle better get ready for students to have second thoughts before shopping there,” says Matthew Brokman of the Student Labor Action Project in Washington, D.C. “We’re making sure that our peers know AE is just not cool when it comes to standing up for workers’ rights.”
From September 10 through 16, student activists will hold informational events on their campuses, leaflet outside American Eagle stores and circulate “American Vulture” materials to thousands of American Eagle’s core demographic, 18-22 year-olds.
Students at six universities in Ontario are participating in the boycott. James Douglas, Ontario regional organizer for United Students Against Sweatshops, says, "Students at universities from London to Ottawa are taking on this boycott to stand in solidarity with the mistreated workers at NLS. Students care about where their clothing comes from and are ready to act when things like this happen. We are disturbed by the way American Eagle has ignored the problem at NLS, immediately abandoning their Code of Conduct when it becomes inconvenient."
The American Eagle boycott began in June and since then thousands of people have signed the online boycott pledge at www.AmericanVulture.org. The campaign recently launched a counter-marketing contest called “Defeather the Eagle” that awards prizes to the best faux ads satirizing American Eagle. “This boycott is reaching young people through innovative online outreach,” says Alex Dagg, Canadian Co-Director of UNITE HERE. “We know that American Eagle is paying attention, but until they take action to enforce their Code of Conduct and support workers’ rights at National Logistics Services, the boycott will continue.”
Earlier this summer, American Eagle sent a letter to its retail employees about the boycott that failed to provide an accurate picture of the situation at NLS. Many retail workers did not accept the company’s version of the story and a growing number have contacted UNITE HERE to express their support for the boycott and share their own experiences of unfair treatment at American Eagle stores.
*Colleges and universities participating in the Week of Action include: UC Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon University, Columbia University, Florida State, George Washington University, Grand Rapids Community College, McGill University, Queens University, Ryerson University, San Antonio College, Santa Clara University, Texas Christian University, UCLA, University of Miami, University of Ottawa, UC Santa Cruz, University of Toronto, UT Mississauga, University of Washington, Vassar College, Washington University, York University.