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Updated On: Jan 30, 2013

Unfortunately, Mr. Spinner’s January 28 communication not only further demonstrates UNFI’s inability to accept responsibility for its unfair and unlawful treatment of its workers, but it also contains patent mistruths.

  1. UNFI workers in Auburn, WA went on strike in protest over UNFI’s repeated violation of their legal rights.  At the time of the strike on December 10, 2013, more than 40 unfair labor practice allegations were pending against UNFI.  Those allegations continue to be investigated by the National Labor Relations Board.  None of those allegations have been dismissed by the Board.
  2. UNFI workers voted unanimously to end their strike after two days and return to work as a show of good faith as soon as UNFI agreed to return to the bargaining table.  In response to that show of good faith, UNFI told the workers that 72 of them – which is just under half of the unionized workforce – had been permanently replaced.  It was UNFI’s capricious and unlawful permanent replacement of 72 workers that compelled the workers to vote to stay out on strike.
  3. The Teamsters have bargained in good faith, and UNFI knows this.  UNFI has never filed a claim with the National Labor Relations Board that Teamsters Local 117 has failed to fulfill its legal obligation to bargain in good faith.
  4. UNFI’s last proposal – which was rejected by a vote of 104-26 – DID NOT CONTAIN CAPS ON EMPLOYEE MEDICAL COSTS.  In fact, that was a key issue for the workers because their expired contract did have caps on employee medical costs.  UNFI’s last proposal eliminated that protection.
  5. UNFI’s last proposal would have left 15 striking workers on the street.  The Company insisted on leaving these 15 workers out only for spite.  UNFI cannot articulate a justification for not returning all workers because none exists.
  6. UNFI sought an injunction to completely inhibit striking workers’ constitutional right to lawfully picket.  A state court issued an injunction that simply required striking workers to comply with the law.  That court order actually enforced striking workers’ rights to peacefully picket at the UNFI facility.
  7. Finally, contrary to Mr. Spinner’s statement that a bargaining session was planned for January 29, 2013, UNFI has not scheduled further bargaining sessions with the Union.  Through conversations with UNFI’s representatives, the Union has stated its desire and commitment to resume negotiations, but the Company has not offered a date to resume negotiations.

UNFI wants to tout all the good works it does in the community.  You have to wonder, though.  If UNFI were the good citizen it claims to be, then why isn’t it doing the right thing?  Why isn’t it remedying its unlawful practices and fairly treating its employees in Auburn, Washington?

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May 28, 2013

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