REI Retail Employees for Real Change
REI RETAIL EMPLOYEES FOR REAL CHANGE is a grassroots movement of part-time REI employees who are seeking to shift the corporate paradigm of how retail employees are valued in the retail industry.
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New Campaign Campaigns
We Are Worth a Living Wage!REI has a rich history of being a cooperative that has cared about its employees and authentically values them. Up until about 15 years ago this was true, but in recent years REI's leadership has been adopting the corporate practices similar to other large-scale retailers, and we’ve been facing hardships we never thought were possible at our beloved co-op. We’re witnessing an all-time high in employee turnover. For those of us who have been at the co-op for a longtime, it is alarming. There used to be a time when this was a rarity at REI. Moreover, what has historically distinguished our co-op from other retailers is the unparalleled knowledge of the staff who power the stores. When we lose our coworkers due to low pay and too-few hours — it effects our customers’ experience, our phenomenal work culture, and inevitably, it will impact our bottom line. We’re asking REI Board Members and Interim CEO to follow the lead of other retailers, by adopting a $15 Living Wage for all the green vests who make REI the great place that it is to shop. We’re also asking that they guarantee all of us enough hours and more full-time opportunities, because without hours, a Living Wage will make no difference. Essentially, we’re asking that our leadership live up to the REI Co-op’s image, and be the champion for hourly retail employees we know it wants to be. Sharing our expertise to help you live a life outside is the best part of our jobs, and now we’re asking for your help to live a life well lived. Join us in asking the REI Co-op to do better for all of its employees — especially the customer-facing Green Vests and hourly Distribution Workers who have it rough too. #WeAreWorthIt!7,673 of 8,000 SignaturesCreated by Simon Anderson
COVID-19: Protect Hourly Workers from Losing their Jobs due to SicknessHourly workers at the REI Co-Op are at great risk of facing termination should they call in sick during the novel Coronavirus pandemic. REI’s COVID-19 sick policy, revised on March 12, does little to protect its hourly assets from losing their jobs, should employees feel the need to call into work sick not knowing if they’ve contracted the virus or not. In fact, it offers workers so little protection, that there is cause for alarm that employees will be deterred from calling in sick, which could potentially place consumers and coworkers at risk. Most hourly workers at REI work part-time and are not eligible for healthcare or any real benefits. As a result, these employees are unable to afford the cost of seeing a doctor, or a visit to a nearby clinic for treatment, which further places their well-being, their livelihoods, and jobs at risk. Moreover, testing for COVID-19 remains inadequate in the United States. We are asking that REI members and all consumers stand together in support of protecting hourly workers from facing termination due to any company's sick policy, in a time when the novel Coronavirus has gripped our nation and the world with fear. REI is a leader in the outdoor industry and we are demanding that Mr. Artz, the CEO of REI, take the lead as REI’s Chief, to do more to protect its workers nationwide. Other companies will look to REI to see what policies it is implementing around COVID-19, so it is paramount that the policies REI is setting, be exemplary. Patagonia, another highly respected outdoor retailer, closed it stores and website operations at the day’s end on March 13, until further notice, to do its part in mitigating the spread of COVID-19, as well as to protect its workforce from contracting the virus. While operations are closed, all of Patagonia’s employees will receive pay. An extraordinary way for a company to live its values. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that it has now been declared a national emergency, it is not unreasonable for us to demand that REI do more to protect its loyal workforce. Until the novel Coronavirus has been contained, we are demanding that REI take these measures to protect hourly workers job security: 1) That all employees who call in sick be excused from work with pay, regardless whether they test positive for the virus. 2) That all sick time taken be excused, without employees having to use any of their accrued sick days or vacation time, retroactive to March 1st. 3) That all employees who are caring for sick family members (regardless if the illness is COVID-19 related), be excused from work with compensation, without having to use any of their accrued sick days or vacation time to cover their absence. 4) That all employees who are parents that need to stay home to take care of their children, due to schools or daycare closures because of COVID-19, be excused from work with compensation, without having to use any of their accrued sick days or vacation time to cover their absence. 5) That no doctors note be needed as proof of illness, because there are simply too many employees who cannot afford a visit to a doctor or clinic for testing. Moreover, accessibility to testing remains inadequate in the United States. 6) That the average weekly hours be preserved for all employees who call in sick, and whose benefits eligibility are determined by the hours they work. Currently, none of these measures are being implemented by REI, even though these were the words our CEO wrote to REI’s membership, in an email about COVID-19 and the actions that REI is taking; “We have modified our paid time off policies to ensure that our employees—including hourly retail employees—who miss work due to illness or to care for sick family members do not suffer loss of income or other benefits.” What this policy actually amounts to is shameful for a cooperative we all love and have grown so loyal to. "Mr. Artz, please revise this policy to reflect the true values of the REI Co-Op."2,219 of 3,000 SignaturesCreated by Alpine Anderson
Boycott REI: Wages & Hours Matter, We Matter!REI’s CEO, Jerry Stritzke, and the Board of Directors are well aware of our hardships, which we have voiced as loud as we can. Collectively, we have faced: homelessness, medical debt, having to rely on food stamps to feed ourselves, even selling our plasma so we can pay the rent, and living off of credit cards. REI’s leadership has known about our struggles for years, and yet they have no plans to make any meaningful investments in their dedicated retail workforce, also known as REI’s Green Vests. Amazon, Whole Foods, and Target have committed to a $15/hour starting wage and the retail workers of #OptOutside are asking our co-op to do the same. On average we start at a little over $10/hour and in some regions under $10/hour. Help us hold REI accountable to the values it was founded on. BOYCOTT our beloved co-op until our leadership announces a $15/hour store-wide wage increase, more full-time opportunities for regular sales associates, and more hours for every retail worker, so we can all make ends meet. We would like to stress that a living wage increase alone is not sufficient. Payroll cutbacks have plagued our work culture and they would become more drastic. It is essential that our leadership commit to a scheduling policy that offers us more full-time opportunity, which would ensure that a broader number of store employees receive guaranteed health benefits and a retirement plan. It is also imperative that REI commits to giving its green vests more hours overall, because too many of us are scheduled so few hours that we are struggling to survive our jobs. Stand by REI’s extraordinary retail workforce. If thousands of REI members and outdoors lovers sign in support of this petition, it will make a difference. Your voices will be heard! REI will do right by us if this petition amasses thousands of supporters. Help us to continue doing what we love doing best — educating and outfitting you all for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship. Gift us a campfire story like no other. Wages matter, hours matter, we matter!2,165 of 3,000 SignaturesCreated by Alpine Anderson
End Hardship at the REI Co-Op!We are part-time retail employees who work for one of the most reputable outdoor retailers and cooperatives in the country, Recreational Equipment, Inc. REI is known not only for its remarkable stewardship of the outdoors, but also for its down to earth image as a retailer that ‘authentically’ values its people—an image REI prides itself on and one which distinguishes the co-op from other large scale retailers. The truth of the matter is that a huge number of us are struggling with considerable hardship. We have tried to address our grim circumstances internally, but our corporate leaders and store mangers have turned a blind eye to our outcries. Although REI has enjoyed record profits for the last 3 years, hardship has become a way of life for most of us. While we comprise a vast majority of the retail positions at REI’s 145 and growing stores, none of us receive any real guarantees whatsoever. Such benefits are reserved for the very few full-time positions offered at REI. One of the primary causes for our hardship are the irregular hours we are subject to—ranging from 4 hours to 30 to 12 hours a week (or none at all)—making it nearly impossible for most of us to make ends meet. Another contributing factor is the lack of full-time opportunity that exists for REI’s retail employees. Very few store workers actually work full-time. For instance, in a store that is staffed with nearly 200 workers, only about 14 of these workers (outside of management positions) are guaranteed full-time hours. For the rest of us, we are at the mercy of REI’s frequent payroll cutbacks and its variable scheduling practices. None of REI’s part-time employees are guaranteed hours—not even 4 hours a week—because that is REI’s store policy. To exacerbate matters, employees are negatively impacted when REI hires more part-time workers during seasonal upswings in business, even though there are plenty of existing workers who are not getting enough hours. While REI claims that it has to hire more part-time employees to meet expected business demands, this is not true. There are many dedicated workers who desperately need to work more, but REI will not accommodate them. REI’s reluctance to make this commitment to its workforce, also impacts the few meaningful benefits that we could be eligible for, like health insurance. While REI boasts it offers health insurance to its part-time workforce, only employees who work a rolling average of 20 hours a week can receive it. Those employees who qualify for coverage can just as easily lose it, simply because of the frequent payroll cutbacks made at REI. Last year alone, we witnessed a large number of distressed colleagues who were fraught with panic, after they learned REI was dropping their coverage. As a united voice, we are demanding that REI make a commitment to its employees by giving us stable hours, offering us more full-time opportunity and putting an end to the practice of over-staffing its stores with so many part-time employees—that hardly any of us can get the hours we need to make ends meet. In addition, it is imperative that REI addresses our low wages. In light that we were told part-time employees would not be eligible for a Living Wage, our hardship is a testament that one is needed. When most REI part-time employees are starting at a wage of just over $10 an hour and it will take an estimated 20 years to earn a Living Wage, REI is not doing enough to provide for the well-being of its employees. Finally, part-time employees are requesting 3 weeks advance scheduling notice from the store managers who are responsible for scheduling. Typically employees receive a one weeks notice and this is not nearly enough time for those employees who need to plan for daycare, a second job, or school. We believe no REI employee should have to take desperate measures in order to survive their jobs at the REI Co-op. When employees are seeking emergency assistance from state and federal funded programs like food stamps, donating plasma to blood banks, participating in risky pharmaceutical experiments, living off credit cards and student loans, selling off their belongings or relying on loving parents to bail them out—REI is not doing enough to take care of its workforce. We’re tired of witnessing our colleagues in great despair at work (sometimes to the point of tears), after their hours have been reduced so drastically that they don’t know how they’re going to survive. To drive our message home, here’s a glimpse into what employees were saying after REI’s extraordinary #OptOutside campaign was announced last year. One employee stated, “I’m glad I’ll have at least one paid day in November (Black Friday).” Others exclaimed: “Are there any of us who can actually afford to get outside to our favorite outdoor spaces on Black Friday?” and “REI expects me to be stoked about #OptOutside, I can’t even afford a turkey for Thanksgiving!” That was our #OptOutside reality when REI’s amazing campaign took media by storm. With the support of our loyal members and the sympathetic guests who shop at REI, retail employees are demanding that REI authentically value us and treat us like the myth #OptOutside created. Hardship should not be a way of life for any of REI’s fiercely dedicated workers. Moreover, it was not the vision that our co-founders, Mary & Lloyd Anderson, had intended for us. It is time the REI Co-op revisit its roots as a true cooperative and value all its employees as much as the outdoors it is renown for preserving. #OptInChange for REI’s friendly green-vested ‘Inspired Guides’—The Andersons (the name we’ve adopted in honor of our co-founders, to represent all REI's working-class heroes). Thank you for your support!2,375 of 3,000 SignaturesCreated by Alpine Anderson
REI Employees Need a Living Wage"REI employees live in fear every week wondering if they will get 30 hours or 3 hours...It is impossible to live a stable life." Edward Peters, Sales Specialist, Greensboro, NC. "I am half a paycheck away from being homeless." -William Bass, Sales Specialist, Seattle. "We as employees need a voice." -Tia Kennedy, Admin Assistant, Seattle. "This treatment has gone on far too long, and must stop." Daniel Robinson, Outdoor Instructor, Portland, OR. At Seattle City Hall on July 11th, just under a dozen REI workers publically shared their stories of hardship while working for REI. These employees from across the country, reported erratic schedules, low pay, hunger, poverty, and homelessness. These conditions have been pervasive, despite REI having a well known reputation as an excellent company to work for. REI bosses have promised to improve conditions, but urged workers to keep quiet and only talk individually to their immediate supervisors. Why does REI want to keep improvements quiet? Workers want assurance that REI will make the changes that they so desperately need. By signing this petition, you are telling the CEO and Board that you want them to make the improvements that REI workers want, and that they need. With your help, we can make REI live up to its claims of being: a model leader in the retail industry, a democratic Cooperative not a greedy corporation, an employer that seeks "to maintain an excellent workplace for staff" with a "commitment to responsible corporate citizenship."69 of 100 SignaturesCreated by Collin Pointon