Companies based in Washington have faced multiple battles over union formations in the past year. Amazon fended off a union vote in Alabama (although “improprieties” will force a new election next month), while Starbucks was unsuccessful in its attempt to thwart unionization at one of their Buffalo coffee shops. The New York Times reports that Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) is now facing a unionization vote from workers at their New York City location in SoHo. The one hundred and sixteen employees at the store are partnering with Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union, who campaigned for the Amazon factory in Alabama. Workers are looking for improved Covid safety protocols, more transparency on which employees test positive for Covid-19, and a more decisive mask policy. Employee Graham Cole said employees are worried that they have seen “a tangible shift in the culture at work that doesn’t seem to align with the values that brought most of us here.” Some employees were let go after go after voicing concerns about workplace safety during the ongoing pandemic.
Not one of the one hundred and seventy stores that REI currently operates has a union. The CEO of REI, Eric Artz, sent an email out to employees that honestly came out as disingenuous and more something a Wall Street-focused firm would write, not a brand that is as well respected as REI. The Co-Op does a lot of good things for employees, like giving them Black Friday off, giving them discounts on products, tuition reimbursement, healthcare, retirement, and profit-sharing plan, among other benefits. That doesn’t mean they’re perfect though, and hopefully, this unionization election will help them focus on what they can improve on. The email from Eric Artz, along with a thread from REI Sohos Twitter account explaining their scheduled vote to unionize, are below:
— Daily Union Elections (@UnionElections) January 23, 2022
Allow us to introduce ourselves: we, the workers of @REI Soho, have come together to form a union with @RWDSU. One week ago today, in our daily huddle, workers presented the following to our manager, asking for recognition of our union. #REIunion (1/17) pic.twitter.com/onP2vYdmce
— REI Union Soho (@reiunionsoho) January 28, 2022