More Than 1,000 Teamsters Now Exercising Rights to Strike or Honor Picket Lines Over Violations of Federal Labor Laws
Kara DenizEmail: [email protected] Phone: (202) 624-6911
(FORT WAYNE, Ind.) – In the fifth day of an unfair labor practice strike at Fort Wayne’s United Natural Foods, Inc. [NYSE: UNFI] distribution center, Teamsters Local 414 members this morning extended pickets to Hopkins, Minnesota and Green Bay, Wisconsin. UNFI is under investigation for violation of federal labor laws in Fort Wayne.
More than 700 Teamsters Local 120 members at the Hopkins facility and 150 Teamsters Local 662 members in Green Bay exercised their right to honor the picket line extension, bringing the total workers affected by the ongoing labor dispute to more than 1,000. The Hopkins facility services the Cub Foods grocery chain; Green Bay services Festival Foods stores.
The strike by 158 Teamsters Local 414 members who supply food and other products to grocery stores began Dec. 12, affecting customers in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, W. Virginia and Kentucky. Local 414’s contract with UNFI expired Sept. 14.
“Many of our members have decades of experience at this facility, and we’ve never seen the company act with such disrespect,” said George Gerdes, Teamsters Local 414 Secretary-Treasurer. “We will not stand idly by while UNFI flagrantly disregards workers’ rights and federal labor law. We’re ready to do what it takes to protect our rights in Fort Wayne and the rights of UNFI workers across the country.”
UNFI is the largest wholesale distributor to natural and organic retailers in the U.S. and Canada. After its Oct. 2018 acquisition of SUPERVALU, it became the second-largest grocery wholesaler in America. Since the acquisition, UNFI stock has lost more than 80 percent of its value. Whole Foods/Amazon is now its largest customer, with 21 percent of UNFI’s total revenues in 2019. UNFI has been Amazon/Whole Foods’ primary distributor for 20 years.
UNFI has had a troubled labor relations history and has often been hostile towards workers’ rights, including their freedom of association. SUPERVALU is a decades-long Teamster-represented company. Teamsters represent 4,000 members at 31 facilities under 51 collective bargaining agreements.
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.