Berkeley’s REI store became the second unionized location of the outdoor retailer in the country after employees voted Thursday in favor of joining Hayward’s United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5.

Last month, members of the San Pablo Avenue store’s organizing committee sent a letter to the management after a “strong majority” of the eligible employees expressed support for unionizing.

On Thursday, the National Labor Relations Board conducted the election, and 56 of the 116 eligible voters cast a “yes” vote to join UFCW Local 5. There were 38 “no” votes and one vote was challenged.

“Improving our daily experience and having our needs met by management with a union contract will help us better serve our REI community,” REI employee Sharon Delap said in a statement.

Both sides have five days to file objections to the election, and if there are none, the vote will be certified and REI must start bargaining in good faith with its employees, said Kayla Blado, spokesperson for the NLRB.

“As we have said throughout this process, REI believes in the right of every employee to vote for or against union representation,” REI national headquarters said in a statement released after the vote. “We fully supported the vote process in Berkeley and will continue to support our employees going forward.”

The Berkeley store, which opened in 1975, joins Manhattan’s REI, which voted to join a union earlier this year.

UFCW International Vice President David Young said in a statement that “REI workers in Berkeley have shown for a second time that REI workers are ready to stand shoulder-to-shoulder and fight for the future they deserve.”

“Their victory, just like REI Soho’s victory in New York, will serve as an inspiration for their colleagues across the country.”

Pamela Turntine

Before joining Berkeleyside as editor-in-chief in April 2021, Pamela was a longtime editor at the Bay Area News Group. Her roles there included night city editor and managing editor for the Oakland Tribune...