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REI Workers Take Coordinated Action in Response to Unlawful, Unilateral Changes to Working Conditions

October 30, 2023 Updated: November 13, 2023

Unionized REI Workers File National Unfair Labor Practice Charge Following Company-Wide Mass Layoffs, Worker Walkouts

Washington, D.C. –  REI workers, represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW)/Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), held coordinated actions across eight states this past weekend in response to the retailer’s decision to unilaterally restructure jobs and working conditions in all of its stores. REI failed to meet its legal responsibility to negotiate with the union before implementing these changes, and as a result, unionized workers also filed a national Unfair Labor Practice charge today with the National Labor Relations Board. 

“I was shocked to hear a scripted dismissal from REI after being promoted to a lead position as a direct result of my work ethic and commitment to REI’s core values,” said Em Beckett (she/they), REI Knoxville Sales Lead who was laid off. “My heart goes out to the other dedicated sales leads, many of whom spent decades at the Co-op developing extensive product knowledge and passionate customer service. Since I worked at a non-union store, there is no legal recourse available to me and the countless others who want to hold REI accountable to the co-op way we actually believed in.”

“REI has an obligation, not only to its workers, but to the law.” said Graham Gale (they/them), REI SoHo bike mechanic and union member, “Its decision to gut stores and lay off some of our most experienced staff is not only devastating, but a violation of our labor rights. We are the ones who have made REI as successful as it is, and it is time we are treated with the respect we deserve. Enough is enough and we are standing together to call on REI to meet us at the bargaining table, as is our federally-protected right.”

“One thing is absolutely clear: it’s time for REI to be held accountable and live up to its supposed progressive values,” said Clare Davis (she/her), Berkeley REI worker and union bargaining committee member. “Management’s refusal to comply with basic labor law, while simultaneously choosing to unlawfully lay off some of their most loyal workers is crushing to those of us who believed in REI’s vision. Today, we stand together in support of our fellow workers at all REI stores across the nation who unjustly lost their livelihood as a result of management’s actions.”

On Saturday and Sunday, REI workers coordinated customer actions outside of eight store locations, handing out informational flyers to customers to raise awareness of REI’s mistreatment of its workers and continued failure to meet unionized workers at the bargaining table to negotiate over these changes.

The company’s unilateral workplace changes have led to mass layoffs, reduced hours, demotions, and other challenges for REI workers in their stores, affecting both unionized and non-unionized workers.

The coordinated action and Unfair Labor Practice charge come on the heels of REI worker walkouts at the Chicago and Maple Grove stores in response to the unlawful restructuring and a wave of unionization efforts by REI workers across the country, with eight stores successfully unionizing in SoHo NY, Berkeley CA, Cleveland OH, Chicago IL, Boston MA, Durham NC, Maple Grove MN, and Bellingham WA.


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.

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