UNFI Reaches Agreement With Indiana Teamsters

Bridget Goldschmidt
Managing Editor
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UNFI Reaches Agreement With Indiana Teamsters
About 160 workers at UNFI's Fort Wayne, Indiana, distribution center went on strike to protest the company's termination of a longtime employee, after contract negotiations broke down. SOURCE: Facebook

Members of Teamsters Local 414 have resoundingly ratified a new long-term agreement covering wholesaler United Natural Foods Inc.’s distribution center in Fort Wayne, Indiana

“UNFI’s four-year contract with Local 414 maintains competitive benefit and wage terms in line with other facilities in the Midwest,” noted Jill Sutton, chief legal officer, general counsel and corporate secretary at Providence, Rhode Island-based UNFI. “The contract also includes language updates that afford UNFI the flexibility it needs to operate and succeed as a competitive distribution business in today’s landscape. We believe this resolution is a positive development for UNFI, our valued associates in Fort Wayne and our customers."

Added Sutton: “UNFI intends to continue pursuing fair, workable labor agreements that address our associates’ needs while allowing us to effectively serve customers and thrive in the modern food distribution environment. We owe it to all of our stakeholders – ranging from associates to customers to shareholders – to reach agreements that position us to adapt and remain nimble. This emphasis on flexibility is one of the main reasons why UNFI was able to quickly implement industry-leading safety and risk management practices tailored to our operations across North America as the COVID-19 pandemic began. Similarly, our focus on associates’ well-being drove the decision to institute a $2-per-hour State of Emergency bonus early in the crisis, even as many other businesses were furloughing or letting go of employees. UNFI’s commitment to maintaining best-in-class safety and risk practices across our distribution network will continue to be universal for the benefit of all associates.”

The approximately 160 employees of the facility went on what UNFI referred to as an “illegal strike” on July 23 to protest what Local 414 called the “unfair labor practice” of terminating a 35-year veteran worker, after contract negotiations broke down over such issues as wages, health insurance and work rules.

UNFI is North America’s delivers a wide variety of products to customer locations throughout North America, including natural product superstores, independent retailers, conventional supermarket chains, ecommerce retailers and foodservice customers. The largest publicly traded grocery distributor in America, UNFI is No. 61 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

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