Over the last several weeks, over 100 Teamsters at United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) have been engaged in direct actions to pressure their employer to stop playing games and negotiate a fair contract that respects workers and their families.
UNFI employees have leafleted customers at Whole Foods and Safeway; they have talked to participants at the recent Natural Products Northwest expo held at the Washington State Convention Center; and they have built a strong coalition of natural foods stores and cooperatives who share their vision of economic justice and basic principles of fairness.
Unfortunately, UNFI continues to use fear and intimidation to try to force workers to accept its substandard proposals.
The company has erected fences around the warehouse and sent threatening letters home to the workers' families. They published an ad on Craigslist for 170 replacement workers and then held a job fair in the warehouse.
But workers know their fight is righteous, and they have not cowered. On October 5, UNFI Teamsters overwhelmingly rejected the company's latest contract proposal. Another round of mediation is scheduled for October 18.
UNFI is not hurting. The company’s revenues have increased 83% in the last five years, and it has maintained an average profit margin of over 18% during that time. UNFI's most recent financial statements disclose that its income increased 20.1% in the fourth quarter of 2012.
Despite soaring profits, UNFI compensates its employees at a rate of 25% less than the compensation provided by other major unionized grocery distributors in the Puget Sound area.
“UNFI is raking in record profits while cheating middle-class workers and their families out of the means to pay their bills and put food on the table,” Tracey A. Thompson, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117.
If you would like to get involved to help workers at UNFI achieve a fair contract, please contact Brenda Wiest at 206-441-4860 ext. 1256.