REI store in New York City becomes 1st to unionize

Mar 3, 2022, 5:17 PM | Updated: 5:44 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — Workers at a New York City outpost of outdoor clothing and equipment seller REI voted overwhelmingly to join a union — the first REI store to do so — amid efforts from workers at other big companies to do the same.

The National Labor Relations Board said Thursday the vote in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood was 88-14 in favor of being represented by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

“History was made today! We’re excited to welcome the workers of REI SoHo into the RWDSU,” said union President Stuart Appelbaum in a statement.

“With a seat at the table, workers can make working at REI safe and sustainable for years to come,” he said.

In a statement after the vote, REI said, “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.”

Efforts to unionize at different retailers are taking place around the country. Two Starbucks locations in Buffalo, New York, and one in Mesa, Arizona, have voted to organize, and workers at Amazon locations in New York City and Alabama are also pushing for union representation.

Seattle-based REI has more than 170 locations across 41 states and Washington, D.C.

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REI store in New York City becomes 1st to unionize