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REI employees in New York pass union vote

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Workers at REI’s Manhattan flagship store voted in an election today to determine whether they will join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). The initial vote tally was 88 votes in favor and 14 votes opposed.

REI Co-op released a statement today addressing the news, saying, “The official results will be certified and are typically announced within five days of the vote tally. As we have said throughout this process, REI firmly believes that the decision of whether or not to be represented by a union is an important one, and we respect each employee’s right to choose or refuse union representation.”

The news of a potential union at the New York store—located in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood—broke late in January when workers filed a request with the National Labor Relations Board for an election that would involve around 100 employees.

Read more: How to keep your retail employees from jumping ship when the big-box stores come to town

In January, The New York Times reported that one of the organizers at the SoHo location said the effort was being pursued after “a tangible shift in the culture at [REI] that doesn’t seem to align with the values ​​that brought most of us here,” and that that shift in culture was caused, partly, by “unsafe working conditions during a global pandemic.”

Throughout the process, REI has firmly supported its workers’ right to unionize. “We are, at our core, cooperative,” the company wrote today. “Our employees are the heart of the co-op community, and their expertise, enthusiasm, and joy in helping people get outside make us who we are. We greatly appreciate their hard work and dedication through what continues to be a remarkably challenging time in the world.”

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