April Corbin Girnus

(Nevada Current) Patagonia retail workers in Reno voted to unionize.

The Reno Patagonia outlet store, located at 130 S Center St., is the first of the outdoor retailer’s U.S. stores to vote for union representation.

Nine of 15 eligible workers voted to join United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 711, according to the National Labor Relations Board.

Nick Helmreich, a retail team lead at the store, said in a statement he and his coworkers were inspired by the organizing progress made by REI workers in recent years.

“We are ready to fight for a contract that protects our rights and provides the wages and benefits we’ve earned making Patagonia the success that it is in Reno,” he added.

UFCW International in recent years has secured organizing victories in the outdoors adventure industry. They have successfully organized five climbing gyms in Minnesota and, along with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), nine REI locations across the country, albeit none in Nevada.

“America’s love of the outdoors deserves to be met with an appreciation for the workers who make our adventures possible,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone in a statement. “Whether in retail, rock climbing, or beyond, all workers deserve to have representation on the job.”

Nevada State AFL-CIO in a statement applauded the Reno Patagonia store, saying it was setting “a significant precedent for the retail industry for future companies to follow.”

Patagonia Vice President of Communications and Public Policy Corley Kenna in a statement said the company “respects the Reno Outlet team’s choice” and is “committed to working with the local union representatives on what comes next.”

He continued: “It was important to us that our approach to this process reflected Patagonia’s values. We have long used our brand and business to encourage participation in the democratic process, and in the same spirit, we wanted the Reno team to have a voice in this important decision. While this is new territory for us, we’ll continue doing everything we can to help all team members feel supported and connected.”

Patagonia is known for progressive stances on environmental and social issues, including issuing statements against abortion bans and pledging to bail out any of their employees who were arrested peacefully protesting for reproductive justice. In 2022, Patagonia’s founder Yvon Chouinard announced he would transfer 100% of the privately held company’s ownership to a trust and nonprofit devoted to fighting the environmental crisis.