Why is REI getting involved in voter law reform that does little more than require ID to vote. REI requires the same for members to have a say or vote in their board elections as does any share holder of any corporate entity. And why are they exercising their power to influence the god given rights of every American? I don’t recall any notice of intent or justification for their public opposition to do so. Arguably, they may not need one. But if they sell themselves as a member owned company then what say do members have when REI publicly opposes voter reform that has no impact upon the business and wreaks of hypocrisy? You can’t have it both ways and if you ask me REI is stepping out of bounds by trying to interfere with local, state, and federal politics.
REI rewards members with a 10% dividend but only for products that members pay a premium full retail price. That’s just barely a benefit as the majority of purchases are apparel items that are made in countries that use unfair labor practices and are already marked up with phenomenal profit margins. Furthermore, REI’s contributions to federal conservation of public lands is grossly underwhelming according to some reports. For example the Federal Aid and Wildlife Protection Act that basically imposes a 10% tax levied against all sales of firearms, hunting & fishing equipment, and licenses. Revenue for the fund pays toward conservation efforts in a substantial way. It’s my understanding that REI despite a multi billion annual revenue contributes less than 1% of their proceeds and profits toward conservation annually. In light of their dependence upon sustaining the environment and lands that their customer base uses, that doesn’t exactly boast of a valued commitment to the environment. Meanwhile they publicly protest companies and the community who does demonstrate such a high degree of responsibility? If these reports are accurate then put your money where your mouth is REI before you tout your success to justify reform or make transparent you motive for doing so.
REI is committed to broadening civic engagement and advancing racial equity within the co-op and across society at large. You can read our full statement condemning voter suppression legislation here. The idea that one person is given one vote is foundational to our co-op and our democracy. We believe voting is a vital part of our democracy and every election presents an opportunity to make meaningful and positive change in our society. We work to increase voting access for all people.
At the co-op, we’re a community of people who have come together around shared values. That’s at the very core of what we do. Our approach has always been to bring people together. To find common ground. Democracy is one of those shared values and advocating that every person be given the chance to vote in that system is not a partisan action.