Outdoor gear retailer REI remains committed to breaking the union-organizing effort by workers at its Manhattan store, but it also remains committed to pretending to be committed to social justice—in hilarious fashion in the case of a podcast episode featuring CEO Eric Artz and chief diversity and social impact officer Wilma Wallace.
This union-busting effort kicked off with Wallace and Artz offering their pronouns and land acknowledgements, as if giving lip service to gender identity and Indigenous people somehow makes a union-busting effort anything other than what it is.
“When people ask why don’t we support unions, my answer is simple: We do not oppose unions. It’s that we don’t believe—I do not believe—that introducing a union is the right thing for REI,” Artz said. This is the “some of my best friends are Black, but ...” of talking about unions. REI workers are trying to unionize because they feel that a union is the right thing for them, as workers who have serious complaints about their employer that are not being addressed without a union.
As one of the workers said as the organizing effort went public, “Why do you have to work 40 hours a week for 12 months to get health benefits? Why is there no guarantee of hours after the holiday season? These are very basic things that REI has gotten away with not doing, despite this facade of being a progressive, liberal company.” REI remains committed to the facade above a reality that works for workers.
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