REI Cleveland, Ohio Workers File For Union Election


Contact: Chelsea Connor | [email protected] | 347-866-6259


(CLEVELAND, OH) – Today, a delegation of REI, Inc. workers at the Cleveland, Ohio store formally filed for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) seeking representation with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). This comes on the heels of two stores winning their union elections in both the flagship SoHo, New York store and in Berkeley, California. Despite REI, Inc.'s every effort to union bust coast-to-coast, workers have yet again filed for a union election. 

This filing came just hours after REI, Inc. management refused to immediately voluntarily recognize the union. In the Wednesday morning huddle, a delegation of workers shared with management that a majority of workers had signed RWDSU authorization cards. With a majority of workers in favor of forming a union, workers asked REI, Inc. to voluntarily recognize the union so that contract negotiations could commence swiftly around a host of issues workers are facing at the sporting goods store, which is already at the table with workers at the SoHo, New York and Berkeley, California stores. 

“100 years ago, it was coal miners; 70 years ago, it was auto workers; today, it's retail. The time for a union in every American workplace is now! We, the workers of REI Cleveland, are the ones customers come to when seeking firsthand knowledge and experience; we are the ones whose expertise drives the company's brick and mortar retail business, and it's time we the workers had a seat at the table. We weathered the pandemic and kept the company afloat, we stretched ourselves thin helping the company achieve its highest profit margin ever, and now we're being told that there aren't enough hours to go around due to corporate overbuying and recession fears. Enough. The American worker deserves better,” said Dave Hein (He/Him), Member of the REI Cleveland Organizing Committee and Bike Services and Ski Mechanic at REI, Inc.

“It’s time that REI practices its values. At REI, we live by the phrase ‘a life outdoors is a life well lived’. Yet employees are not paid fair wages and have to deal with irregular scheduling preventing us from enjoying the great outdoors. With a Union, the green vests at REI Cleveland will have an opportunity to make our voices heard and make the store a better place for workers and the community we serve,” said Cloud Schneider (They/Them), Member of the REI Cleveland Organizing Committee and Visual Sales Lead at REI, Inc.

The worker-led unionization effort in Cleveland, Ohio has been underway for well over a year, but workers cite the overwhelming win at REI, Inc. in SoHo, New York as having put the “battery in our backs” to push to a majority of card signers and file for election. On March 2, 2022 by an overwhelming majority vote of 86 percent, workers at the REI Co-Op in Manhattan, New York voted to join the RWDSU, making REI, Inc. SoHo, the first unionized REI, Inc. store in the nation. Despite enduring a union busting campaign that included captive audience meetings, a halt on promotional opportunities, and even a 25-minute union busting podcast, workers stood together to make REI Inc. the inclusive, progressive workplace it claims to be through their union. Workers at the Cleveland, Ohio store hope they won’t need to endure the same, and that their election date is set swiftly.

When successful, the RWDSU will represent approximately 55 current NLRA eligible workers in the Cleveland, Ohio outdoor sports equipment company in contract negotiations. The store currently operates at a 60% staffing level of its full capacity, potentially increasing that number to over 70. The workers in the proposed bargaining unit include all full- and part-time sales specialists, technical specialists, visual presentation specialists, shipping and receiving specialists, certified technicians, operations leads, sales leads, and shipping and receiving leads.

Pending the parties’ ability to come to a stipulated agreement swiftly and without the need for a hearing, the NLRB could set this election for as early as next month. More information about an election date and procedure will be available via the NLRB. 

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The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) represents 100,000 members throughout the United States, including 45,000 in New York State. The RWDSU is affiliated with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW). For more information, please visit our website at www.rwdsu.orgFacebook:/RWDSU.UFCW Twitter:@RWDSU.