On July 11, 2016, well over 100 people packed City Hall to rally with REI workers fighting for fair schedules, strong wages, and the right to organize a union at their co-op without interference or retaliation. Workers presented the following demands, which you can sign on to here:
- Access to Full-Time Hours: Existing workers must be offered available hours before new part-time workers are hired.
- Reaffirm the Right to Unionize with Card-Check Neutrality Agreement: If the majority of workers sign union cards, REI must agree to card check neutrality (meaning, if the majority of workers sign union cards, REI agrees to recognize that union).
- Cost of Living Adjustment Raises: All workers should get their cost of living increase, in addition to the minimum wage increases mandated by Seattle’s 2014 law.
This public forum came on the heels of a revitalized effort by REI employees to organize the co-op from the ground up. Two months ago, REI Workers for Real Change launched their first petition, which nearly two thousand people have signed.
Over the last month, my office has met with many to discuss what these workers describe as a pervasive and cutthroat corporate environment. Workers have been denied basic cost-of-living wage increases, are forced to survive on extremely unpredictable and inadequate hours, and have faced intimidation and retaliation for speaking up. Homelessness, hunger, and other precarious living situations are not uncommon.
Meanwhile, REI is doing better than ever, reporting $2.4 billion in revenue for 2015, with over one million new members joining the co-op. Add to that news of a massive, elective relocation effort in the works, with the Puget Sound Business Journal reporting in March that REI had reached a “tentative deal” to acquire at least 8 acres in Bellevue’s $2.3 billion Spring District. All this, yet employees lack the hours to guarantee basic necessities.
I have reached out to Jerry Stritzke, REI’s CEO, asking for a meeting with him and REI Employees for Real Change members. In the months ahead, please join me in having the REI workers’ backs. If you are a co-op member or worker and are interested in staying up to speed on the struggle, reach out to staff in my office at 206.684.8016.
Posted: July 15th, 2016 under Workers Solidarity