REI workers held coordinated actions at eight unionized stores this past weekend, with the union indicating the actions were in response to the retailer’s decision to restructure jobs and working conditions in all of its stores.

On October 12, REI announced internally that it was laying off about 275 retail employees, or roughly 2 percent of its in-store workforce, as it updated its store operations system and its labor structure. Read SGB Media’s coverage here.

The union representing the workers, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW)/Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), said REI failed to meet its legal responsibility to negotiate with the union before implementing these changes. As a result, unionized workers filed a National Unfair Labor Practice charge today with the National Labor Relations Board.

According to the union’s press release, REI workers coordinated customer actions outside the retailer’s eight unionized locations, handing out informational flyers to customers to raise awareness of REI’s alleged union violations. The eight unionized stores are SoHo, NY; Berkeley, CA; Cleveland, OH; Chicago, IL; Boston, MA; Durham, NC; Maple Grove, MN; and Bellingham, WA.

The union’s release reads, “The company’s unilateral workplace changes have led to mass layoffs, reduced hours, demotions, and other challenges for REI workers in their stores, affecting both unionized and non-unionized workers.”

REI said in a statement to SGB Media, “This past weekend, a number of REI employees organized outside of our eight unionized stores. We were told it was in response to some recently announced structural changes to roles and titles within our stores. We are engaged in good faith bargaining with stores that have chosen union representation and will continue to participate fully in the negotiating process.”

The coordinated action come on the heels of worker walkouts that led to the one-day closure of the Maple Grove store on October 27 over the restructuring actions. REI’s Chicago store also faced walkouts the prior week and was forced to close early that day, as reported to SGB Media by the RWDSU.

Responding to the Maple Grove closure, an REI spokesperson told CCX News that the retailer is “continuing to bargain in good faith with the union and our employees in the Maple Grove store.” The spokesperson said, “Unfortunately, a number of our employees chose to walk off the job on October 27, 2023, and, therefore, we were forced to close our Maple Grove location due to inadequate staffing levels. We’re told this was part of a union protest about some recently announced structural changes to roles and titles within our stores.”

Photos courtesy REI, RWDSU