FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 3, 2023
Contact: Chelsea Connor | [email protected] | 347-866-6259
REI CLEVELAND WORKERS VOTE OVERWHELMINGLY TO JOIN THE RETAIL, WHOLESALE AND DEPARTMENT STORE UNION
Workers Form Third REI Store Union
(CLEVELAND, OH) – Today, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), announced that, by an overwhelming majority vote, workers at REI, Inc. in Beachwood, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland and the only REI location in the greater metropolitan area, have voted to join the RWDSU, making this the third unionized REI store in the nation. Workers endured an exceptionally harsh union busting campaign that included an attempt by REI to delay their election entirely, as well as conducting intimidating one on one meetings with workers and managers, spreading inaccurate and incomplete information with workers at daily morning huddles run by management, and unlawful surveillance of the workers by outside REI management that descended into Beachwood from other REI stores, leading to multiple Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges against REI. Despite these union busting actions, REI Cleveland workers have stood strong together and prevailed.
“Tonight, we can finally say that REI Cleveland is a union store. I love working at REI, and with a seat at the table, I know we can make it better for workers and customers alike. As new members of the RWDSU, we green vests are united in our desire to create more transparent and consistent policies and a workplace that will be sustainable for workers for years to come. As we enter contract negotiations alongside our union family in SoHo and Berkeley, we’d like to remind REI that we always ‘start from a place of respect,’ and we hope they will too,” said Nick Heilgeist, Member of the REI Cleveland Organizing Committee and Retail Sales Specialist at REI.
“We’re excited to welcome the workers of REI Cleveland into the RWDSU. When their employer tried to aggressively delay their election, workers walked out, and went on strike, until the employer backed-off. They have stuck together through a horrendous, relentless, and unlawful union-busting campaign and have come out the other side stronger. REI Cleveland workers will now bring their strength to the bargaining table, and we know that together they will win a strong contract,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).
The vote to unionize REI Cleveland was conducted by an in-person secret ballot vote on-site at the Beachwood store on March 3, 2023, overseen by the Cleveland office of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The RWDSU will represent approximately 56 workers at the outdoor sports equipment company in contract negotiations, which will commence this year. The store currently operates under its full capacity, potentially increasing that number. The workers in the bargaining unit include all non-supervisory employees at the store, which includes all full- and part-time sales specialists, technical specialists, visual presentation specialists, shipping and receiving specialists, certified technicians and mechanics, operations leads, sales leads, and shipping and receiving leads.
The worker-led unionization effort in Cleveland, Ohio has been underway for well over a year, but workers cite the first win at REI, Inc. in SoHo, New York with the RWDSU as having put the “battery in our backs” to push to a majority of card signers and file for election.
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The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) represents 100,000 members throughout the United States. The RWDSU is affiliated with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW). For more information, please visit our website at www.rwdsu.org, Facebook:/RWDSU.UFCW Twitter:@RWDSU.