The chief executive of Recreational Equipment, Inc., America’s biggest outdoor leisure co-op, has criticised president Donald Trump over policies including his travel restrictions.
Within days of his inauguration, Trump provoked outrage and mass protests around the world after slapping the restrictions on majority-Muslim countries Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The move has brought the president into conflict with his country’s judicial system after a federal judge suspended the ban.
Jerry Stritzke, chief executive and president of outdoor leisure co-op REI, joined the voices condemning his actions, which have affected workers in his co-op.
In a message to the co-op’s employees, Mr Stritzke hit out at the new administration over a range of polices.
He said: “Over the course of the first week alone, we’ve witnessed actions that conflict with our co-op values on issues including climate, the environment, women’s rights and the singling out of individuals based on nationality and belief.
“These issues are core to the health of the outdoors and the ideals of our nation.”
On the travel restrictions, he said: “We are an organisation, and a country, built on inclusion. We believe we are better when we come together, when we are open and when we are welcoming.
“Accordingly, we do not support the executive order issued by the president on Friday regarding immigration.
“From our founding days, the co-op has welcomed all. That means whether you are an employee, a member or a customer you can count on respect and can be assured that we will not discriminate based on who you are or where you’re from.”
Mr Stritzke said he had “reached out personally” to employees in the immigration process to see they had support and asked anyone affected to contact the co-op’s HR team.
He added: “We will also be deliberate about how we make a positive impact. We will focus our advocacy efforts on public lands, climate change and equality for all. We are committed to taking action in these areas because believe REI can unite people across the political spectrum.
“Integrity is the measure of an individual and a leader. I am speaking out today because I believe these issues are too important to stay silent. I look forward to discussion and debate about how we, together, can be a force for positive change in the outdoors – and for our country.”
REI is a speciality outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle, USA, with more than 6 million active members and 149 stores in 36 states. It has distribution centres in Washington, Pennsylvania and Arizona.
Its annual revenue for 2015 was $2.4 billion and last year it made an innovative relaunch of its cycling brand.
A spokesperson for the company said he could not give details of how many employees were affected by the ban, saying it was an “internal matter”, but added that Mr Stritzke had contacted them all personally.