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To: REI CEO, Mr. Artz, and REI Board of Directors

COVID-19: Protect Hourly Workers from Losing their Jobs due to Sickness

We are asking that our President and CEO, Mr. Artz, go to every length possible to protect worker job security during the Coronavirus outbreak, which has been declared a national emergency in the United States.

Why is this important?

Hourly 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."




2020-03-17 16:10:56 -0400

Sasquatch came out of the woods to tell you our petition still needs support! In our excitement over the news that REI announced store closures, we prematurely announced that our petition was a success. Prior to March 16, when REI closed stores, many hourly employees needed to call in sick due to illness, and fear that they may have contracted COVID-19. It is paramount that REI excuses these absences retroactive to March 1, with pay, so employees jobs won’t be at risk. We can’t over emphasize how important that REI follows through with this goodwill to hourly workers, because REI’s sick policy is so unfavorable to employees that any sick time taken prior to March 16, could indeed lead to termination. PLEASE CONTINUE TO SUPPORT OUR PETITION!

2020-03-16 12:28:32 -0400

We are thrilled to announce that in day two of going live, that it has been a success! We can’t overstate how deep our gratitude runs to these caring folks who took a moment to sign our petition! Without their concern for the well-being and livelihoods of hourly workers, many could have found themselves in a position where they could have been fired.

We’re certain that you will be shocked by REI’s initial response to the pandemic and how it did so very little to protect the well-being, livelihoods, and job security of REI’s hourly dedicated workers. At this time, we don’t know how our distribution workers will fare, because REI’s online operations will remain open. We can only hope that REI will do the right thing by excusing all distribution workers absences related to sickness, and make the commitment to compensate them for their loss of hours, without having to use their accrued sick days or vacation time.
Full statement:

2020-03-14 17:07:14 -0400

1,000 signatures reached

2020-03-14 14:37:40 -0400

500 signatures reached

2020-03-14 13:51:34 -0400

100 signatures reached

2020-03-14 13:48:59 -0400

50 signatures reached

2020-03-14 13:47:45 -0400

25 signatures reached

2020-03-14 13:47:12 -0400

10 signatures reached