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REI begins furloughs for 'majority' of retail employees April 15

Published April 6, 2020

KENT, Wash. (BRAIN) — REI Co-op will begin a 90-day furlough for "the majority" of its retail and field employees starting April 15, said Eric Artz, president and CEO, in an email on Monday night to co-op members.

REI's 162 stores have been closed indefinitely since March 16 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. All employees have been paid during the closure.

During the furlough, all health and welfare benefits will continue, with REI paying the employee portion of the premiums, said Artz, who added the furloughed employees can apply for unemployment.

"Our hope is to begin a gradual reopening of our stores in the coming months," Artz said. "We plan to begin with curbside pickup hopefully in the next 45 days. And we look forward to welcoming you all back into our stores when it's safe to do so. As we did with our decision to temporarily close our stores, we're going to prioritize the safety of our employees and customers and closely track federal and local guidance."

The limited operations will mandate headquarters layoffs, Artz said. Laid off full-time employees will receive severance along with outplacement services and support, Artz said.

Artz said he will forfeit all of his base salary for the next six months and all incentive eligibility for the year. The REI board of directors will forfeit its fees for the next six months, and the senior leadership team will take a 20% pay cut for the same duration and forfeit incentive eligibility for the year.

"As the co-op's CEO, my job is to serve our employees and you, our members," Artz said. "This current crisis is testing us all, but we have worked to make sure our decisions and actions are consistent with the co-op's mission and values."

Most orders through will continue to be shipped for free. Customers with questions about gear and local outdoor activities can go to REI Conversations and Co-op Journal.

Topics associated with this article: Coronavirus

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