Teamsters Call Strike at UNFI as UNFI ‘Disappointed’

unfiTeamsters Union Local 117 has called for a strike against United Natural Foods, Inc. The strike was called against a warehouse in Auburn, Washington for what the union has called unjust labor practices.

The union issued a statement online saying that the specialty and organic product wholesaler had refused negotiations on some mandatory subjects and also accused the company of other actions that were unlawful and that were being investigated by the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board).

Teamsters also said that UNFI was mistreating their workers and had disregarded labor laws.

In response to the claims by the union, UNFI said that they were “baseless and without merit.” The company further said that the union had misrepresented the situation. The company announced that given the holiday season they would have to hire replacement workers to support their customers. UNFI further said that it had given the union proposals that included wage increases of 10.8 percent, which was never given to members to vote on it. It went on to say that it was disappointed and surprised by the strike action.

Picketing at the distribution center started at 7p.m on December 11. One of the complaints that the union has against UNFI is the compensation gap that exists between UNFI pay and other grocery distributors, even when the company had been growing its profits for at least 5 years. The company has now hired guards and put up security fences at the warehouse location.

Teamsters had picketed United Natural Foods Inc. delivery trucks on December 5 at the Fife, Washington distribution center location and later at the company’s Safeway product distribution center and the Supervalu warehouse in Tacoma.