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Patagonia's store in Reno is its first to unionize

A Patagonia store in Reno is unionizing.

Patagonia is the latest U.S. retailer to see employees at one of its stores vote in favor of union representation.

Workers at the Patagonia store in Reno, Nev. have voted to join United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 711, becoming the company's first store in the country to unionize. The UFCW also represents employees at nine stores of fellow outdoor retailer REI that have unionized since 2022.  

Patagonia has long been known for its bold social activism and commitment to the environment. In September 2022, company founder and owner Yvon Chouinard, his wife and two adult children made the unusual decision to transfer all ownership in Patagonia, which is valued at $3 billion,  to two newly created entities — Patagonia Purpose Trust and the Holdfast Collective. Every dollar that is not reinvested back into Patagonia will be distributed as dividends to organizations and groups that are dedicated to protecting the planet. 

"My fellow co-workers and I are now standing together with the protections of union representation and about to negotiate a contract, all thanks to our union siblings over at REI whose progress inspired us to continue the hard work of unionizing this industry," said Nick Helmreich, retail team lead at the Reno Patagonia store. "We are ready to fight for a contract that protects our rights and provides the wages and benefits we’ve earned making Patagonia the success that it is in Reno."

"America’s love of the outdoors deserves to be met with an appreciation for the workers who make our adventures possible. Whether in retail, rock climbing, or beyond, all workers deserve to have representation on the job," said UFCW International President Marc Perrone. "We are excited to welcome Patagonia workers to the UFCW and look forward to reaching a strong union contract that reflects their hard work and experience."

Unionization is becoming increasing common among retail store employees. Starbucks recently shifted its strategy regarding labor unions to start discussions on a "foundational framework" that would help the retailer reach agreements with union workers with Workers United, the union that represents approximately 10,000 employees in nearly 400 Starbucks stores nationwide.

Other retailers that have seen employees in stores and/or distribution centers join or hold votes to form unions in the past couple of years include The Home Depot, Apple, Chipotle, Target and Amazon. 

A number of retailers have improved pay and other benefits for store and warehouse employees in the past couple of years, at least in part to lessen the appeal of possible unionization efforts. 

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