Workers at a REI store in Manhattan seek to form a retailer’s sole union


NEW YORK – Employees at a REI store in Manhattan filed to run in a union election on Friday, making the outdoor clothing and equipment retailer the latest prominent service-industry employer. workers sought to unite.

Amazon employees in Bessemer, Alabama, rejected the union in an election last year, though the National Labor Relations Board later released the results, citing being part of the company. There are inconsistencies and demands that a new election begin next month.

In December, workers at two Starbucks stores in Buffalo, New York, voted to merge, making them the only company-owned Starbucks location in the country with a union. Employees of about 20 other Starbucks have since applied for union elections.

The filing at the REI store in SoHo asked the labor council to hold an election with the participation of approximately 115 employees, who are seeking to be represented by the Retail, Wholesale and Stores Alliance. department store, the same union that oversaw the union campaign at the Amazon warehouse in Alabama.

In addition to filing for election, REI officers requested voluntary recognition of their union, which would make a vote unnecessary.

Like Starbucks, REI, a consumer cooperative comprised of customers who buy a lifetime membership for $20, builds a progressive image. REI’s website says the cooperative believes in “putting goals ahead of profits” and invests more than 70% of its profits “back to the outdoor community” through initiatives such as dividends members and share profits for employees.

Since the start of the pandemic, some REI employees have criticized the retailer for what it says are inadequate safety protocols, including a lack of transparency about employees who have tested positive. with COVID and decided to relax their face covering policy. The retailer said it was following relevant guidance from federal and state health agencies, but it had tweaked some policies because of criticism. Workers at a REI store in Manhattan seek to form a retailer’s sole union

Huynh Nguyen

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