Out of 116 eligible voters, which includes not only retail employees but also guards, supervisors and managers, 56 employees voted to unionize while 38 employees voted against unionizing. The petitioners sought representation with The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. Though parties have the chance to challenge the eligibility of voters prior to the vote as well as the credibility of votes after the count, the challenged votes were not determinative. In any case, either party can file any objections in the next five business days with the National Labor Relations Board.
As with previous unionization attempts, organizers seek to upend inflexible policies while bargaining for better wages, more flexible scheduling and improved workplace safety and training.
In March, an REI store in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood voted to unionize in an “overwhelming” 88-to-14 victory. At the time, the REI Co-op underscored its respect for “each employee’s right to choose or refuse union representation.” For this latest victory in Berkeley, the REI Co-op, again, reiterated its stance in a press statement: “As we have said throughout this process, REI believes in the right of every employee to vote for or against union representation. We fully supported the vote process in Berkeley and will continue to support our employees going forward.”
As previously reported, union organizers at REI underscored their belief that unions are “necessary” for stability, security and an enriching workplace. The case trails a sweep of retailer union attempts in recent months, many occuring at Amazon and Starbucks workplaces across the nation.