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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

REI Workers Take Their Union Drive to the Stage

On the afternoon of February 24, in the basement of the Hudson Park Library in lower Manhattan, a crowd of workers gathered to see a play. Laura Neill, the playwright, greeted attendees, and friends excitedly exchanged hellos as they waited for the performance to begin. There was something unusual about this read-through. Flyers were piled on a table at the entrance to the room; one asked attendees to donate to the REI Union Hardship fund to “support the workers whose pay was cut in retaliation for their organizing efforts.” A second requested donations for a particular member of that union, who needs help paying for major spinal surgery.

“At REI, most workers are unable to pay for basic medical needs, but when it comes to major procedures, it’s even harder,” read the second piece of paper. “When facing retaliation via hour and pay cuts, it’s nearly impossible.” Neill is a member of the REI Union SoHo, organized in March 2022 with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) in an eighty-eight-to-fourteen vote; a handful of the company’s 180 stores across the country have since followed suit. All the actors in Foot Wears House are REI Union SoHo members, too. The play is being directed by Colm Summers, the artistic director of Working Theater, which focuses on theater by and about working people.

Read the rest at Jacobin


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