From the Facebook page of REI Employees for Real Change. Visit the page, and for more information see the well-populated “Notes” section of that page.
REI Retail Employees for Real Change is a grassroots movement of workers who are seeking to shift the corporate paradigm of how we are valued in the retail industry. While REI is a highly respected outdoors gear & apparel outfitter, that has done remarkable things for preserving the outdoors, its retail employees have largely been left behind. These employees are fiercely dedicated. Their loyalty runs deep, because REI is renown for being a ‘warm & fuzzy’ co-op and respected for its ethics and authenticity in the retail marketplace. The mere fact that REI is a co-op, is what draws many of us to REI as an employer, because cooperatives are known for taking better care of its employees.
In recent years, however, in REI’s quest to expand and grow larger, it has adopted many of the corporate practices that other large scale retailers employ—particularly in regard to how it values its part-time workforce. This workforce predominantly powers REI’s 143+ stores across the nation (with more stores projected to open in 2016). These workers are given absolutely no guarantees, protection, or commitment by REI. As a result of REI’s lack of commitment, too many part-time employees face unnecessary hardships just to make ends meet while they try to survive.
#OptOutside [a corporate decision to give workers the day off on “Black Friday”] was the impetus of our grassroots movement. While it was indeed an extraordinary campaign, it created a myth that REI employees were treated remarkably different, in comparison to employees of other large scale retailers in the country. This is not true. Our ongoing hardships as a struggling workforce are a testament to this fact. The purpose of our movement is to force REI into addressing the crisis that exists throughout its workforce, because our voices have gone unheard and unheralded for far too long. If our efforts are successful, we hope to inspire other working-class heroes across the retail and service industries, to find their voice and take a stand.