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REI employees demand better hours, pay

caption: REI's famous flagship store in downtown Seattle.
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REI's famous flagship store in downtown Seattle.
Flickr Photo/brewbooks (CC BY SA 2.0)/

REI workers are demanding better schedules and higher wages.

Monday night, employees from the outdoor equipment company shared their concerns publicly in a forum at Seattle's City Hall. City Councilmember Kshama Sawant helped organize the event.

The group REI Employees for Real Change says the company boasts good benefits for full-time employees, but that people rarely get full-time work. Seattle-store employee Collin Pointon said instead, the company just hires new workers to fill open shifts.

Pointon said inadequate hours became a problem for him when he needed to update his bank account. The new account required at least $1,000 in deposits each month.

Pointon: "And I told my banker, I work at REI, there are going to be months when I am not scheduled enough to make $1,000 a month. It became clear that not only is getting enough hours to pay rent a month a problem, but now making these important changes to my bank accounts are a problem, too."

The Employees for Real Change have three demands for the company: the right to full time hours, dependable scheduling and the right to unionize without retaliation.

REI says in a statement that the company offers full and part-time jobs with one of the best combinations of pay and benefits in the industry. It says the company is working on changes to scheduling practices, and the CEO will announce new investments in pay later this summer.

Meanwhile, Seattle city leaders are considering new laws about worker schedules.

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