REI to workers: A union is not the “right thing” for you. Election set for next week.

An important union vote will take place next week at a retail chain’s NYC store. A victory there could add a good bit of momentum to the union movement building in the retail sector.

The Gothamist reports:

“More than 100 retail workers at the national outdoor gear chain Recreational Equipment, Inc. will decide whether to form a union during an in-person vote on March 2, paving the way for what could become the company’s first unionized store.

The workers are campaigning to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union in order to help workers address issues related to wages, paid-time off scheduling, training and workplace safety concerns, organizers said. Union organizers announced the vote Wednesday night and records from the National Labor Relations Board confirmed the election will be held throughout the day in the breakroom of the SoHo REI store with the results expected later that evening.

Steve Buckley, a union organizer who works as a retail sales specialist at the SoHo shop, spoke with other organizers at a Zoom press conference on Wednesday evening, saying workers “need to have a true seat at the table.”

The Seattle-based outdoor equipment and apparel store with around 15,000 employees across the country, bills itself as a cooperative model, where membership is encouraged and members receive company dividends each year in the form of discounts. Despite that, the company said it is opposed to the workers forming a collective of their own.

In a statement, REI said the company supported unions in other workplaces where, “employees do not have a voice,” but added that it didn’t think a union was the ‘right thing’ for its employees.”

For the rest of the story, visit the Gothamist here.

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