REI’s New Counsel Advises Union of Pay Cuts for Many SoHo Workers in The Middle of Contract Negotiations
REI yesterday notified RWDSU—the union representing workers at its SoHo, New York store—through its new legal counsel that many workers at the store would be receiving pay cuts in their next paycheck amid a shakeup of the company’s legal representation at the bargaining table.
Last summer, as a result of workers organizing the flagship SoHo store, REI introduced “The Way Forward,” a new package of pay and benefits that was extended to workers at every REI store across the country except for SoHo. Workers were able to win back the pay raise and improved benefits after they engaged in a walk-out in November, in exchange for an agreement not to strike through June 1, 2023. Despite management’s promise to the unionized workers that the agreement would herald a more productive and harmonious negotiation process, REI went back to their long-held anti-union strategy of glacial bargaining and delay tactics no sooner than the ink on the agreement had dried. Management has continued to stonewall workers on even relatively simple requests, such as including workers’ pronouns on their name tags.
Just a few weeks ago, nearly a year into contract negotiations, REI announced it was changing its legal representation to Morgan Lewis, a notoriously, vehemently anti-union law firm. This led REI to cancel all bargaining sessions in the later half of May. When negotiations resume later this month, the move will also force the worker-led bargaining committee to waste time recapitulating proposals that have been on the table for months, derailing and delaying bargaining.
“Workers have been bargaining with REI for almost a year, accomplishing a great deal. But, just as workers were getting down to pay and other economics, the company pulled the rug out from under them," said RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum. "It is inexcusable. But, workers at REI have faced aggressive union busting from the very start. That animus led them to be left out of a critical wage and benefits increase this fall. Workers fought back and won, and now REI is bringing in some of the most anti-union attorneys in the country to pull back on the wages many workers have had for the better part of seven months." Read more here and click here to tell REI to restore SoHo's pay NOW!