REI’s Berkeley, California, store has officially unionized after a 56-to-38 vote was certified on August 25. With the successful vote, Berkeley becomes the second REI location to unionize, after the Manhattan flagship store completed a similar effort in March with a wider 88-to-14 vote.
The Berkeley store will join Hayward-based United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5, which represents 30,000 workers. REI’s Berkeley store has 116 employees who were eligible to vote, of which 94 returned mail-in ballots to the National Labor Relations Board for counting.
On the Berkeley REI union member’s webpage, statements from employees were posted alongside a link encouraging other REI stores to form their own unions.
“This opportunity to have a voice in my work world gives me great hope for all my other green vests at REI and retail workers nationally,” said REI Berkeley employee Sharon Delap on the site. “Improving our daily experience and having our needs met by management with a union contract will help us better serve our REI community.”
“As we have said throughout this process, REI believes in the right of every employee to vote for or against union representation,” REI’s corporate office said in a statement. “We fully supported the vote process in Berkeley and will continue to support our employees going forward.”
Barring objections made before August 31, the vote will be certified and REI must start bargaining in good faith with its Berkeley employees, according to the NLRB.
The REI Berkeley union’s Twitter and Facebook pages were filled with congratulatory messages from both customers and employees, along with calls for other REI stores to organize.
“This is only the beginning,” said one Facebook post. “The real way forward is with a union! We cannot wait to join our siblings at @reiunionsoho. Now, who’s next?”
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