REI Union Chicago members walk off the job during Anniversary Sale to protest contract negotiations

Members of REI Union Chicago walked off the job in the middle of REI's Anniversary Sale to protest after the company reportedly failed to negotiate a contract in good faith. 

The protest was held Saturday morning and those in attendance included union members, elected officials and other leaders/workers from the Chicago area. 

The store's sale runs from May 17-27 and is a significant revenue period for the company. However, workers said they are struggling with low wages and unsafe working conditions. 

"While the company stands to potentially bring in millions if not hundreds of millions, their workers will continue to struggle to make rent, buy groceries, and commute to their low-paying, sometimes unsafe jobs," said the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), who is representing the REI workers, in a release.

According to the RWDSU, workers demanded that REI reach a fair contract by the end of this year, since contract negotiations have remained stalled since September 2023. 

Today’s strike is the first action during the Anniversary Sale, with more expected from all 10 unionized stores. 

Earlier this month, the REI Union National Steering Committee, which includes workers from all 10 unionized stores, held an open "board meeting" to discuss the company’s union-busting practices and the slow pace of negotiations. 

They called on REI’s Board of Directors to hold the company accountable and return to the bargaining table.

The REI Union’s demands were presented to the company in March and have not been addressed, according to RWDSU. 

Thousands of co-op members have echoed these demands, seeking a fair contract by 2024.

This is a developing story and we'll bring more updates as they become available.