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REI Workers Take Nationwide Legal Action Against Employer

November 15, 2023

REI Gets Hit with 80 Federal Labor Charges Showing Pattern of Egregious and Pervasive Anti-Worker Behavior

Washington, DC – Today, unionized REI workers with the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), filed coordinated, nationwide unfair labor practice charges against their employer, Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI), over the company’s bad faith bargaining practices and unilateral workplace changes that show a pattern of egregious anti-union behavior, emotional manipulation, and retaliatory actions against workers, such as firings, changes to work schedules, and disciplinary practices. Workers from all eight unionized REI locations filed charges with their regional National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) offices. 

Clare Davis, (She/Her), a Bike and Snow Shop Senior Mechanic at the Berkeley, Calif. REI said the following: 

“Today, unionized REI workers from across the country stood up and said enough is enough. We will not sit by as management systematically spreads misinformation, subjects employees to emotional manipulation, and commits clear violations of federal labor law. Current leadership has abandoned the vision of the founders who truly lived REI’s progressive values and love for the outdoors. The workers at REI are keeping that vision alive with our hard work, expertise, community service, and yes, by forming a union. Despite the onslaught of union-busting tactics, we will keep organizing and winning elections. When we stand together, we win.”

Dave Hein, (He/Him), a Shop Mechanic at the Cleveland, Ohio REI said the following: 

“We shouldn’t have had to walk out to reach an election date, we shouldn’t have had to file a ULP to receive standard information for bargaining, and we shouldn’t have to file charges now in order for REI to bargain in good faith with us. We were the third store to file; and from day one, ‘delay, delay, delay’ seems to be the moniker we never wanted, but REI gave us. They delayed our vote, they delayed our contract negotiations starting, and now they’re delaying getting to a first contract. There’s no reason we should have to do everything in triplicate just because we were the third store to unionize. Make no mistake, we will not be intimidated or silenced: REI Union Cleveland will not stop fighting alongside our REI Union siblings for a strong union contract that reflects the value we bring to the Co-op.”

Sue Cottrell, (She/Her), a Sales Associate with nine years tenure at the Bellingham, Wash. REI said the following: 

“From the beginning of this process, REI has shown that they do not value their workers. It is high time that they are held legally accountable for their actions against their most experienced and committed employees, who have devoted their lives to making REI what it is today. With this charge, we are showing REI the power that workers have when we stand together, even when they try to divide us. Today, we implore REI to stop their pattern of blatant and illegal disrespect towards their workers.”

Emily Burchett, (She/Her), a Sales Lead at the Chicago, Ill. REI said the following: 

“We won our union election by working together with the support of workers all across the country, and now we stand together to demand the company bargain in good faith. United, all of us at REI Union share a vision for our workplace that starts with holding REI accountable to its stated values, which they seem to have forgotten. This can only happen with a union contract–failing to negotiate in good faith undermines the Co-op way.”

Sasha Scheule, (She/Her), a Retail Sales Specialist at the Boston, Mass. REI said the following: 

“I’m proud to stand together with fellow REI workers across the country to file charges against management’s blatant violations of federal labor law. All workers deserve the right to organize a union free from the fear of retaliation or intimidation from their employer. At the end of the day, it’s workers who make REI the successful Co-op it is and our right to form a union must be respected. If REI wants to live up to its so-called progressive values, they should abide by basic federal labor law and come to the negotiations table in good faith.”

Anni Saludo, (She/Her), a Sales Specialist with more than 12 years tenure at the Durham, N.C. REI said the following: 

“I chose to work at REI because it held itself up as a progressive company– promoting unity amongst employees and the outdoor community for decades. So when my co-workers and I formed a union, we believed it would be in line with the Co-op’s values. However, instead of acknowledging our collective voice and our right to form a union, we faced strong opposition from management in the form of retaliation, misinformation, and disregard for basic labor law. We are filing these ULP charges with our co-workers across the country to hold REI accountable as the progressive company it claims to be.”

Maxwell Nagel, (He/They), a Retail Sales Specialist Shipping & Receiving at the Maple Grove, Minn. REI said the following: 

“When we stand together, we win, and REI needs to hear that. We went on strike over their unfair and unlawful treatment of our co-workers across the country and unilateral changes at our store. We’re the ones who do the work at REI. It’s our customer service and expertise in the outdoor industry that keeps this company running and keeps customers coming back. Management has tried to slow us down at every step of the unionization process. As REI workers, we want them to show up to bargain with us in a real way, treat us with respect, and behave like a real Co-op.”

Graham Gale, (They/Them), a Shop Mechanic at the SoHo, N.Y. REI said the following: 

“We, the workers of REI Union SoHo, have spent over 18-months pushing for a first contract. The struggle has been difficult, but we’re continuing to fight because we NEED meaningful change in our workplace. REI has targeted us, the first store to organize, from the very beginning, and now in an aggressive move; they hired Amazon’s notorious union busting attorney, Morgan Lewis. This decision made clear that REI is more interested in fighting its own workers than having meaningful negotiations with us. We’ve spent the last six-months in only a handful of sessions, and seeing little agreement, while re-educating the new lawyers on our long-held issues. We join together with all of the unionized stores nationwide today to DEMAND that REI bargain in good faith towards a fair first contract. REI, if you truly believe in the values you profess, come to the table. Until then, green vests from coast to coast will continue to build power, numbers, and solidarity; this union is not going anywhere.”

The filings come on the heels of REI worker walkouts at the Chicago, Maple Grove, and Boston locations as well as coordinated actions across eight states with REI workers engaging customers and raising awareness of the company’s hypocritical mistreatment of its workers.

Despite REI’s concerted, multi-pronged union busting campaign, there has been 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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