REI says it’s boosting pay for workers in certain cities, including Seattle, starting next month — a move the outdoor co-op says has been under way for months and that comes after employees have been increasingly vocal about wage and scheduling issues.
REI says it’s boosting pay for workers in certain cities, including Seattle, starting next month. While the outdoor co-op says the move has been under way for months, it comes after employees have been increasingly vocal about wage and scheduling issues.
Effective Aug. 21, REI says, employees at 37 stores in cities where the cost of living has been rising the most will see their base wages rise anywhere from 5 to 15 percent.
The cities include Seattle (including the Alderwood, Redmond, Tukwila and Issaquah stores, as well as the Seattle flagship), Portland, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Denver and Washington, D.C.
The 37 stores represent a quarter of REI’s total storecount.
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“Every employee in these markets will receive an increase, and increases will vary by employee,” the co-op said in a statement, adding that workers will also be eligible for annual merit-based pay increases.
“By mid-2017, all REI retail store employees will be paid clearly above the majority of retailers in their area,” the co-op also said.
REI, which has consistently been on Fortune magazine’s list of 100 Best Companies to Work For, has come under fire recently from employees.
Workers last year, in an “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit with CEO Jerry Stritzke, blasted the co-op for penalizing employees who failed to sell enough memberships.
At the annual membership meeting in May, a longtime employee talked of not getting pay raises despite the co-op’s sales of $2.4 billion, and net income of $35.4 million in 2014. (REI said, in a statement, that it gave back 72 percent of its profits to employees, members and nonprofits.)
A group of workers, calling themselves REI Employees for Real Change, launched a petition and Facebook page in May, and earlier this month worked with Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant to organize a forum at which several talked of low wages, erratic hours and even being homeless. There’s been talk of unionizing.
Aisling Concannon, a former REI employee in Portland who’s a leader in REI Employees for Real Change, said Sunday that “the hardships that REI employees are facing are storewide, therefore, only addressing those employees in urban areas is not enough.”
As of August, “only 37 stores will be seeing wage increases and these increases will not be $15 across the board,” she said.
Stritzke had said earlier that the co-op had determined that raising the average salary of employees to $15 an hour would cost $30 million — about what it made in profit last year.
REI, which has 12,000 employees nationwide, emphasized Sunday that its pay raises have been in the works for months now and is a “proactive, not reactive, effort,” given how large the decision is “both logistically and financially.”
The co-op also said that it would update employees on scheduling issues in October.