REI SoHo voted to unionize Wednesday night in earnest.
In an 88-to-14 vote (out of 116 eligible voters), workers voted to unionize in an in-person election that was months in the making.
After the results, REI Co-op issued the following statement: “Today our SoHo store employees participated in an election to determine whether they would be represented by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). The initial vote tally in the SoHo election is 88 votes for union representation and 14 votes against. The official results will be certified and are typically announced within five days of the vote tally. As we have said throughout this process, REI firmly believes that the decision of whether or not to be represented by a union is an important one, and we respect each employee’s right to choose or refuse union representation. We are, at our core, cooperative. Our employees are the heart of the co-op community, and their expertise, enthusiasm and joy in helping people get outside make us who we are.”
Despite claims of union busting that included captive audience meetings, a halt on promotional opportunities and a 25-minute union-busting podcast, REI SoHo organizers banded together in a majority vote.
“I am proud to be here in this moment with my coworkers at REI SoHo as a part of this new wave of unionization efforts that is sweeping the nation,” said Claire Chang, member of the REI SoHo organizing committee and retail sales specialist-visual at REI SoHo, in a statement. “As members of the RWDSU, we know we will be able to harness our collective strength to advocate for a more equitable, safe and enriching work environment. A union is necessary for many of us to achieve more stability and security in our lives which could allow for us to explore and play more outside of work! As green vests, we believe ‘A life outdoors is a life well lived,’ and in order for that to be viable and accessible to us, we need to be at the bargaining table alongside REI leadership to work out a collective bargaining agreement that works for us.”
Chang is hopeful that REI will meet in good faith during negotiations for the union’s first contract.
As previously reported, employees are challenging inflexible policies while bargaining for better wages, flexible scheduling and improved workplace safety and training.
The RWDSU referred to the the news as an “overwhelming” victory.