NEW YORK — UNITE HERE is planning a rally today at 12:30 p.m. outside American Eagle Outfitters Inc.'s Union Square flagship here to call for a boycott of the retailer's clothing. The organization said the boycott will continue until American Eagle enforces its code of conduct at National Logistics Services, the retailer's Canadian distribution contractor. UNITE HERE alleges that NLS thwarted efforts by workers to unionize over the last year.
The rally is timed to coincide with American Eagle's annual shareholder meeting today in Manhattan.
"NLS hired a public relations firm to run a union-busting drive," said Anna Oman, a spokeswoman for UNITE HERE, which is expecting more than 250 people at the rally. According to the union, NLS' 180 employees were harassed and intimidated, received anti-union videos at home and were subjected to daily two-hour meetings at work.
"We regret to be a part of this campaign," said an American Eagle spokeswoman. "It's a situation with our Canadian distributor, NLS. American Eagle is just one of the customers that's served by NLS."
Oman said American Eagle is the largest client of NLS. "AE has adopted a code of conduct for vendors and contractors, which says it won't work with contractors that don't abide by protections for freedom of association. This is so out of the norm for Canadian labor relations. That's a big part of why we're fighting so hard."
"UNITE HERE has been approaching AE stores in Canada and the U.S., and, as always, we continue to focus on the customer experience," the AE spokeswoman said. "It's up to the employees everywhere. The NLS employees voted against the union. Now the situation is in front of the Ontario Labor Relations Board. We have confidence in the Canadian government that the matter will be resolved."
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