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REI union to hold rally in New York demanding company bargain in good faith

Published May 22, 2024

NEW YORK (BRAIN) — REI union members at the SoHo store will hold a rally Thursday to demand that the co-op sign a letter of commitment to reach a contract by the end of the year.

The protest scheduled for 11 a.m. over REI's "failure to bargain a contract in good faith," according to the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), will include union members from around the city.

An REI spokesperson emailed BRAIN to say the company is committed to negotiating in good faith.

"The collective bargaining process — especially when negotiating a first contract — can be lengthy. Both parties have been engaged in numerous negotiations and have reached tentative agreements on various topics. We remain steadfast in our commitment to this process and to finding a mutually beneficial agreement with our stores that have chosen union representation.

"We understand and respect the rights of our employees to protest and remain focused on creating the best possible experience for our employees, customers, and members."

The rally is the latest union action during REI's annual Anniversary Sale that concludes on Memorial Day, including protests by other RWDSU represented stores in Chicago — in which employees walked out — Cleveland, and other REI unionized stores across the country.

New York REI workers have bargained with the company for almost two years, while others including Chicago, which unionized over a year ago, have similarly failed to reach an agreement.

For more than nine months, according to the RWDSU, only REI's attorneys have appeared at bargaining sessions. Company management and decision makers have not attended, the union said.

"REI's highly profitable annual Anniversary Sale lasts from May 17-27, 2024," the RWDSU said in a news release announcing the Chicago walkout. "While the company stands to potentially bring in millions if not hundreds of millions, their workers will continue to struggle to make rent, buy groceries, and commute to their low paying, sometimes unsafe jobs."

Cleveland elected officials, labor unions and leaders of the North Shore Labor Federation.

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