In federal mediation on January 8, Teamsters Local 117, the Union that represents 168 warehouse workers and drivers on strike at United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI), encouraged the company to put its best foot forward and present workers with a reasonable contract proposal that would put an end to the month-long strike. UNFI committed to present a proposal the following day.
Three days later, on January 11, UNFI contacted the Union with its proposal. Unfortunately, instead of making a reasonable, good-faith offer that workers could accept, UNFI presented a proposal that left workers with no choice but to reject it.
With its latest offer, UNFI:
- Refused to reinstate all 72 workers that it permanently replaced in violation of federal law;
- Eliminated health care protections for workers by removing caps on premium increases;
- Insisted on the withdrawal of all of the Union's unfair labor practice charges and important grievances;
- Undermined workers retirement security;
- Fired a worker for alleged strike misconduct and insisted that the Union relinquish its right to take action against replacement workers who violated their membership obligations.
After careful consideration of the company's offer, workers voted 104-26 to reject the proposal at a meeting at the Teamsters building on January 11.
UNFI's latest contract proposal shows that the company is not genuinely interested in resolving the dispute. Instead, in presenting an offer that had no chance of success the Company appears to be intent on dividing workers, maximizing profits, and destroying the Union. That is not a responsible position for any company to take, especially one that touts "social responsibility" and "sustainability" as UNFI does.
Ever since the start of negotiations last March, workers at UNFI have held strong, stood together, and shown tremendous courage, integrity, and solidarity in the face of a lawless, adversarial billion-dollar employer that is driven only by its own greed.
By rejecting the company's latest offer, workers at UNFI have shown that they will not be bullied. They have shown remarkable resiliency and that they will continue their fight for justice, not only for themselves and their families, but for all working men in women employed in the grocery distribution industry in this country.
In order for workers to continue their fight, they need your support. Please donate to the Teamsters 117 UNFI Workers' Hardship Fund today! The UNFI Workers' Hardship fund was established by Teamsters Local 117 to benefit striking workers and their families. All proceeds from the fund go directly to the families of workers with the greatest financial need. Your donations will help a worker pay the rent, keep the lights on, and put food on the table.
IMPORTANT COMMUNITY MEETING: On Saturday, January 19, there will be an important community meeting to discuss the ongoing labor dispute at UNFI. The meeting, which will involve union members, faith leaders, community co-op activists, and other concerned community members, will take place at the Teamsters Building in Tukwila starting at 10 A.M. All are invited! You can RSVP for this event here. Please contact Brenda Wiest at 206-441-4860 ext 1256 for more information.