United Natural Foods, Inc. (Nasdaq: UNFI) said that it is surprised and disappointed that Teamsters Local 117 has decided to strike at its Auburn, Wash., distribution center. UNFI offered to return to the bargaining table as recently as yesterday, yet the Union elected to go out on strike.
The Union's claims that UNFI has engaged in unfair labor practices are entirely baseless and without merit. To date, the National Labor Relations Board has not found any instances of UNFI committing unfair labor practices, although the NLRB did find that the Union threatened UNFI's employees with loss of employment if they crossed the Union's picket line. The Union continues to misrepresent the situation and undertake a smear campaign in an effort to damage UNFI's reputation.
Given the Union's decision to go out on strike during this busy holiday season, UNFI has no choice but to move forward with contingency plans, which include hiring replacement workers to support customers in the region.
The Union never brought UNFI's latest proposal to its members for a vote. The company's most recent offer included a 10.8 percent wage increase over three years, as well as the acceptance of several union proposals. UNFI has made numerous concessions during the months of negotiation and believes that the latest offer it presented to the union is fair, reasonable and competitive.
UNFI has historically had a good working relationship with Teamsters Local 117 for the last 22 years, and its approach at all times in the negotiations has been to work collaboratively to ensure it reaches an agreement that is in the best interest of its associates, its customers and its business.