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The following letter was sent to REI CEO on 1/16/96
Wally Smith, CEO
Recreational Equipment, Inc.
P.O. Box 1938
Sumner, WA 98390
Dear Mr. Smith,
I have been informed that REI has notified Columbia Sportswear
not to ship REI any clothing that has been manufactured in Burma.
I applaud your concern for the situation there. This sends a message
that you are displeased with the support that Columbia gives to the
SLORC by buying clothing from them. However, I must notify you
that this action falls short of having any real impact on Columbia.
In fact, I believe it enables them to continue to have clothing made
in Burma, thus helping to fuel the SLORC.
This is the exact same tactic that The New York Times attempted to
employ when we asked them to end their purchase of MacMillan
Bloedel paper. A year ago, The New York Times informed us and
others that they had asked that Macmillan Bloedel no longer supply
them with paper produced from trees from Clayoquot Sound, the
main area of contention. However, this in no way hurt Macmillan
Bloedel, so it was business as usual. The New York Times mistakenly
assumed that since they were no longer receiving the end product of
the worst abuse, that they were free of responsibility. Not so. And
frankly, I am surprised at YOUR use of such a tactic. REI always struck
me as a company with more integrity and courage than that. And, I
don"t need to remind you that REI is a co-op and its members, I"m
sure, would want this resolved in a more definite way than you have
I further implore you to drop the Columbia line altogether, until
Columbia ends sourcing from Burma. This is the only action that
will have a negative economic impact on Columbia, and thus send
a clear message to pull out.
I must inform you that, falling short of this, REI remains a target of
Rainforest Relief demonstrations aimed at informing the public
about Columbia's support of the SLORC. And I will encourage our
partners across the country to do the same.
I regret to inform you that Rainforest Relief has renewed its plans to
demonstrate at an REI in the New York area later this month.
Please let me know of any further decisions as soon as possible.
Tim Keating, Director