REI Retail Workers in Manhattan File to Form Company’s First Union

Workers at an REI store in New York City filed to form a union among the location’s 116 employees on Friday. If the union is successful, the store will be the first to open. the outdoor recreation equipment company’s 168 locationsUnionization of 15,000 employees.

The workers have filedRepresentative by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. They have also requested voluntary recognition from their employer of the union to bypass the need for a vote.

It’s unlikely that the company will simply allow the workers to unionize without an election, however. The company responded to the filing by stating that it opposes unionization of their employees.

“We respect the rights of our employees to speak and act for what they believe – and that includes the rights of employees to choose or refuse union representation,” the company said in a statement. “However, we do not believe placing a union between the co-op and its employees is needed or beneficial.”

The statement is reminiscent of an email sent to organizing workers this weekend. according to Daily Union Elections on Twitter. A screenshot of the email shows that CEO Eric Artz sent it.

Union busting tactics include framing a union in a divisive way. Starbucks has used similar language to discourage unionization among its employees. Starbucks claims that a union creates tension and divides workers. Starbucks also made it a point to schedule workers in an erratic fashion, presumably to make it harder for employees to unionize. Workers have spoken.)

Workers believe the union is necessary to ensure safe working conditions for workers during the pandemic. Additionally, there has been “a tangible shift in the culture at work that doesn’t seem to align with the values that brought most of us here,” according to a statementGraham Gale is the organizer.

The company claims progressive values, much like Starbucks. 2016 saw the following: company rebranded to include “co-op” in their logo to emphasize its membership program and garner a sense of community between the company and its customers. Its website says that REI is “A different kind of company,” and says that a large portion of its profits are invested back into its members and employees.

After a dispute between the company and its workersWhen Seattle retail workers waged a campaign to get better scheduling policies and higher wages, The workers were also at the beginning of organizing a union campaign.

However, the company stopped workers from filing a petition for unionization before they could do so. It posted a memo to employees at the store warning that signing a union card could have “consequences.”

“REI management is not anti-union,” read the memo, according to The Stranger. “We just don’t need one at REI…. We sincerely urge you not to sign a union authorization card.”

Employees responded positively to the push. eventually wonSeattle workers will receive a $15/hour wage increase Jerry Stritzke, then-CEO, stated that it would be too expensiveAccording to, the same is true for all employees in the country. average salariesThe hourly rate for retail employees at lower levels is still below $15

The company was also widely praised when it opened in 2005. it decided in 2015It would close on Black Friday and it earned a good reputation for treating its employees well.

New York workers’ push comes during a time of heightened unionization activity at major corporations. Starbucks workers are a strong union. A remarkable number of documents were filedThey have filed over 100 union filings in the past month and have so far been able to unionize two locations despite a fierce union campaign from the company.

Amazon workers in Bessemer (Alabama) have also filed to unionize at RWDSU. They will start their second electionThe National Labor Relations Board determined that the company violated labor laws in February 2021.