Last week, workers at a Manhattan REI store filed for a union representation election, seeking what would be the first union at the outdoor equipment retailer. It didn’t take REI management long to start churning out anti-union messaging, including anti-union statements read by managers at captive audience meetings and workers being pulled into one-on-one meetings with managers.
“One thing I keep coming back to is the fact that REI prides itself on being a great workplace, a leader of the outdoors, but why is it that none of us are making a living wage?” one of the workers, Kate Dedend, told Motherboard’s Lauren Kaori Gurley. “Why do you have to work 40 hours a week for 12 months to get health benefits? Why is there no guarantee of hours after the holiday season? These are very basic things that REI has gotten away with not doing, despite this facade of being a progressive, liberal company.”
REI is structured as a customer co-op and has worked hard for a progressive image. One question here is how much blowback its anti-union campaign will draw from co-op members. If you are one, you might reach out to the company to let it know you support—and expect it to support—its workers’ right to organize.