In the middle of REI‘s Annual Anniversary Sale, which runs from May 17-27, got a bit of a disruption in Chicago on Day 2 of the sale.  REI Union Chicago, represented by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), walked off the job in an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) strike protesting REI’s failure to bargain a contract in good faith. The walk-out occurred on Saturday, May 18.

The REI Union Chicago workers were joined by fellow union members, State Senators Robert Peters and Lakesia Collins, Secretary-Treasurer of the Chicago Federation of Labor, Don Villar, and other leaders and workers from Chicago’s labor movement.

In a rally, the disgruntled workers demanded REI agree to reach a “fair contract” by the end of 2024.  

Earlier this month, just ahead of the Anniversary Sale actions, the REI Union National Steering Committee, comprised of workers who have unionized with both the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), held a “board meeting” with workers from all ten unionized stores across the country. This open union “board meeting” came on the heels of REI’s annual private corporate board meeting, which the union said in a statement excludes co-op members and workers from participating in a real way. During the call workers reviewed walk they deemed to be the company’s “union busting practices,” and gave a status update on the “glacial pace of union contract negotiations.”

The REI Union National Steering Committee also said it called on the company’s Board of Directors to hold the company accountable to the “countless voices they failed to hear during their closed board meeting” and demanded the company send decision makers back to the table and commit to bargaining a contract in good faith by 2024.

“This demand was delivered to the company by workers in March and has yet to be countersigned; it was also a question asked by thousands of co-op members during the open write-in question period ahead of the board meeting, which went unanswered, yet again, by the company during their meeting,” the union said in a media release.

Image courtesy REI Union Chicago