Student Hold National Day of Action – REI Drop The North Face!

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Students  and community members held a day of action today at REI stores in over 30 cities across the United States. They delivered certificates to REI, heralding them as “America’s Most Cowardly Co-Op” and “Biggest Bystander”.  In this latest day of action, students responded to VF’s latest activities in the aftermath of the Medlar Apparels factory fire where workers were injured as they were instructed by their managers to return into the fully-evacuated factory and fight the fire. The purpose? To protect sewing machines and other property. Rather than take the fire and injuries as a sign that their factories were clearly unsafe, The North Face/VF Corporation chose to encourage their workers to fight fires by incentivizing them with reward bags of sugar and cinnamon.

Throughout the summer, communities began uniting in a campaign to demand REI stay true to its co-op values and value the lives of workers over its corporate cronies. Despite numerous national days of actions, and even 21 arrests during a peaceful protest this July, REI has still failed to cut The North Face and refuses to even schedule a meeting with students. The company instead continues to defend The North Face/VF’s treacherous record by using tactics like hiring security guards to physically shove protesters out of REI stores and calling upon local police to arrest demonstrators.

These aggressive tactics have only strengthened students’ convictions to campaign harder. As USAS members settle into their class and work routines, they are shifting their gears toward mobilizing their campuses to fight in solidarity with garment workers against a brand that is quickly becoming synonymous with worker abuse: The North Face. Hundreds of store actions and direct requests from Bangladeshi unions and labor rights organizations have not been enough to hold REI to its principles, begging the question: what is it going to take?