rei berkley
REI in Berkeley, Calif., voted to unionize on Thursday; (photo/REI Union Berkeley)

Second REI Store Votes to Unionize

The new wave of unionization sweeping through American companies rolled on Thursday with the second REI store to form a union.

Employees at REI’s Berkeley, Calif., store voted today to form a union, making it the second location of the outdoor retail giant to unionize.

The newly formed union quickly announced the news on Twitter, starting with a single word: VICTORY.

A combination of full-time and part-time employees secured a majority vote of 56 to 38, according to a tally by the National Labor Relations Board. The employees will join the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5, a 30,000-member labor union.

REI responded with a statement that said it supported the employees’ decision.

“As we have said throughout this process, REI believes in the right of every employee to vote for or against union representation,” the company said in a statement following the vote count. “We fully supported the vote process in Berkeley and will continue to support our employees going forward.”

The statement arrives 5 months after a cadre of its New York employees formed the first union in the co-op’s history. In March, REI’s SoHo location unionized on March 2, in an 88-14 employee vote to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).

In general, unions have grown quickly in 2022, especially in the outdoor industry. In April, Movement Crystal City in Arlington, Va., became the first climbing gym to unionize. A Lululemon store in the Washington, D.C., neighborhood of Georgetown also voted to unionize in July.

REI previously established its position on unions within the co-op when members voted to unionize in New York for the first time in REI’s history.

“[W]e do not believe placing a union between the co-op and its employees is needed or beneficial. We are, at our core, a cooperative. By definition, we do business differently; we are collaborative by nature, working toward common goals. We stand up for our shared values in all we do. And we measure our success by our positive impact on our employees, our members, society, and finally our business — in that order.”

Several pro-union REI employees stand outside the SoHo flagship store ahead of the Mar. 2 vote; (photo/@reiunionsoho)
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Andrew McLemore
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An award-winning journalist and photographer, Andrew McLemore brings more than 14 years of experience to his position as Associate News Editor for Lola Digital Media. Andrew is a musician, climber and traveler who currently lives in Cuenca, Ecuador, which he uses as a home base for adventures throughout the Americas. When he's not writing, playing gigs or exploring the outdoors, he's hanging out with his dog Campana.