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08/29/2022

Second REI store votes to unionize

The fledgling union movement at REI has spread to the West Coast.
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REI has 177 locations in 41 states and the District of Columbia.

The fledgling union movement at REI has spread to the West Coast.

The specialty outdoor retailer, which is the nation’s largest consumer co-op,  said that employees at its store in  Berkeley, Calif., have voted for union representation, with an initial vote tally of 56 votes for representation and 38 votes against.  The employees voted to be represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5.

“As we have said throughout this process, REI believes in the right of every employee to vote for or against union representation,” the retailer said in a statement. “We fully supported the vote process in Berkeley and will continue to support our employees going forward.”

In March, employees at REI’s store in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan voted to unionize — the first REI store to do so. The vote  was 88 in favor and 14 opposed. The workers will join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which is affilated with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.

“History was made today," said union president Stuart Appelbaum in a statement following the Manhattan vote.  “The workers of REI SoHo are ready to negotiate a strong contract that will allow them to uphold the co-op’s progressive values while providing the top-notch service REI customers have come to expect.”

In voting for union representation, the REI employees join other retail and restaurant workers who are organizing,  including most notably, workers at Amazon's Staten Island, N.Y.-based warehouse. 

Amazon,  Apple and Starbucks. During the last 10 months, more than 200 of Starbucks’ approximately 9,000 U.S. locations have voted to unionize. Most recently, workers at a Chipotle restaurant in Lansing, Mich., voted to form a union with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. It is the first of the chain's 3,000 locations to organize.

In a New York Times report, John Logan, a professor of labor studies at San Francisco State University, said that, similar to Starbucks, REI attracts workers who appear to have an ideological affinity for unions beyond potential practical benefits such as an increase in wages.

REI has 177 locations in 41 states and the District of Columbia.