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REI Workers From Across The Country Demand REI HQ Management Bargain in Good Faith

March 7, 2024 Updated: March 8, 2024

Workers from all Nine Unionized Stores Across the Country and Their Allies Called on Management to Come to the Table Outside and Delivered a Unified List of National Demands

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – Today, REI workers from across the country who have unionized with the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) hiked to REI’s national headquarters in Issaquah, Washington, where they delivered their unified national platform to the company and called on management to bargain in good faith at tables outside – bringing bargaining to their literal doorstep. REI Union National Steering Committee Members from all nine unionized stores, were joined by REI co-op members, community members, and local elected officials including King County Councilmembers Girmay Zahilay and Sarah Perry and more.

In the days leading up to the final leg of the worker’s metaphorical march across the country, workers at all nine unionized stores in Soho, New York; Berkeley, California; Cleveland, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois; Durham, North Carolina; Boston, Massachusetts; Bellingham, Washington; Maple Grove, Minnesota; and Castleton, Indiana participated in hikes, bike rides, and other outdoor activities, with each activity representing a new demand in their new national platform. These activities were widely shared on social media and in a virtual press conference yesterday which can be viewed and used by media here, photos and videos from today’s action are available for media use here

Throughout the process of trying to bargain the first contract for REI workers, the company has engaged in ongoing bad-faith bargaining practices and unilateral workplace changes that show a pattern of egregious anti-union behavior, and retaliatory actions against workers. Despite these tactics, the growing unionization movement at REI is building momentum, with the ninth REI location winning their election outright on February 9, 2024 in Castleton, Indiana.

Kaylee Ige , ( She/They), Berkeley REI worker said: “Today, myself and my REI coworkers from across the country stood up and said enough is enough. The workers at REI are keeping the founders’ vision of a co-op rooted in progressive values alive with hard work, expertise, community service, and, yes, by forming a union. The current leadership has completely abandoned the vision of REI’s founders. No matter what REI throws at us, we will keep organizing and winning elections. We traveled to REI’s headquarters today to demand that REI come to the table and negotiate a fair contract that meets our essential needs and secures a better future for our coworkers, customers, and the co-op itself.”

Madison Drinen, (They/Them), Maple Grove REI worker,  said “I’m proud to stand together with my fellow green vests from across the country today outside the co-op’s headquarters to present our vision for an REI that actually provides us with guaranteed minimum hours, job security, adequate staffing levels, and paid time off that’s enough to go outside. Whenever our customers go into the back country, we advise them to bring the ‘ten essentials’ needed to survive the elements, and we are calling on REI to provide us with the essentials we need to continue delivering great customer service to our co-op members.”

George Reed, (He/Him) , REI Castleton REI worker said “After winning our union election less than a month ago, I’m excited and energized to stand alongside my colleagues from stores across the nation to make our demands heard. REI brands itself as a co-op of like-minded outdoors enthusiasts that unites workers and customers alike to form enduring communities united by progressive values. That is exactly what this growing REI union movement is doing, ensuring that all REI workers are treated with respect. This means securing the basic scheduling, compensation, and staffing practices needed for a safe and dignified workplace.” 

“Our store has many employees with young kids, so fighting to not only protect parental leave but improve flexibility for parents and make REI a sustainable place to work is a huge part of the union. REI should be a place where all employees – no matter your age, family status, or life’s unexpected circumstances – can have real longevity and build a career here,” said Jeff Rosemeyer (He/Him), Hardgoods, REI Castleton, Indiana.

“As an elected member of our bargaining committee, I have been incredibly frustrated and disappointed by REI’s continued refusal to actually bargain with us. They have taken all REI employees from the management side of the table and replaced them with lawyers who lack a basic understanding of how the stores and company functions. This, combined with the repeated rejections of our proposals and refusal to give counters, has stalled the process, which feels incredibly intentional. What hurts most is knowing that it does not need to be like this. Before Morgan Lewis took over, we were making real progress at the table and were able to find common ground. Our committee remains dedicated to resolving all outstanding issues and reaching a contract that reflects our contribution to the co-op. We call on REI to do the same. Come to the table and get this done,” said Steve Buckley (He/Him), Senior Sales Specialist, REI SoHo, New York. 

“The essentials we are asking for as a union are simply the basic necessities to live a healthy life. We should not be expected to accept living paycheck to paycheck. I’m consistently one emergency away from financial disaster. I cannot save any money. I have never been able to save money, and it costs too much to pay for housing and food and necessities to have enough to set aside. How can a company which claims such ‘progressive’ values not be ashamed to fight workers who are asking for such reasonable, essential things? Our union is strong and proud, and knows that what we are asking for is important. Several co-op and community members came to support our walkout in Chicago a few weeks ago because they also relate and recognize that workers deserve better treatment and wages. Our union has solidarity with other unions, laborers, and the community, and it helps make us a stronger force,” said Margaux Lantelme (She/Her), Frontline & Banker, REI Chicago, Illinois.

“At our community event, members of our team shared stories about their experiences with REI’s sick policy and health care plans. It’s difficult for us to adequately take care of ourselves under the current conditions. So many of my peers have to come to work sick because they don’t have adequate sick time and if you get enough unexcused absences you can get fired, which has happened before at our store. Being a chronically ill person myself, the system has been difficult to navigate – it’s not easy to get adequate accommodations – and even when you do, they’re often less than ideal. As a union, we’re really fighting to make policies that actually work for the workers and allow us all the time and resources we need to take care of ourselves,” said Cloud Schneider (They/Them), Sales Lead, REI Cleveland, Ohio.


The UFCW International is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.2 million workers and their families in grocery, meatpacking, food processing, healthcare, cannabis, retail, and other essential industries. UFCW members serve our communities in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Learn more about the UFCW at ufcw.org.

The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) represents 100,000 members throughout the United States. The RWDSU is affiliated with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW). For more information, please visit our website at www.rwdsu.org, Facebook:/RWDSU.UFCW Twitter:@RWDSU.

Learn more about the growing REI unionization movement here

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