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Workers at REI Cleveland store vote to join union

Published March 3, 2023

CLEVELAND (BRAIN) — Workers at an REI location in Beachwood, Ohio, near Cleveland, have voted to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). It will become the third REI store that is unionized, following stores in California and New York.

Last month, workers at the store walked out for a few hours, forcing the store to close in a dispute over how many workers there would be eligible to join the union.

"Tonight, we can finally say that REI Cleveland is a union store," said Nick Heilgeist, a member of the REI Cleveland Organizing Committee and a Retail Sales Specialist at REI. "I love working at REI, and with a seat at the table, I know we can make it better for workers and customers alike. As new members of the RWDSU, we green vests are united in our desire to create more transparent and consistent policies and a workplace that will be sustainable for workers for years to come. As we enter contract negotiations alongside our union family in SoHo and Berkeley, we'd like to remind REI that we always 'start from a place of respect,' and we hope they will too." 

The vote was conducted by an in-person secret ballot vote at the store on Friday, overseen by the Cleveland office of the National Labor Relations Board. The RWDSU will represent approximately 56 workers at the store in contract negotiations, which will begin this year. According to RWDSU, the workers in the bargaining unit include all non-supervisory employees at the store, which includes all full- and part-time sales specialists, technical specialists, visual presentation specialists, shipping and receiving specialists, certified technicians and mechanics, operations leads, sales leads, and shipping and receiving leads. 

REI workers after the vote. RWDSU photo.

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