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UNFI in Mediation With Teamsters

AUBURN, Wash. — United Natural Foods Inc. here was in federally mediated discussions last week with Teamsters Local 117 in an effort to end the strike at its warehouse here, the company said.

As previously reported, the union local launched a strike against the Providence, R.I.-based wholesaler in early December, citing unfair labor practices during negotiations on a new contract.

The Teamsters local had previously called off the strike, but resumed it after it said some striking workers had been terminated.

The union confirmed Tuesday that is was back in federally mediated talks with UNFI, scheduled to take place Tuesday and Wednesday.

“UNFI has shown absolutely no willingness to end the strike,” the union said in an online post, citing its refusal to reinstate the terminated workers and other grievances. “It is incredibly important that UNFI understands that it cannot continue to violate workers’ rights, violate the law, and subvert the bargaining process.”

UNFI was not available for further comment but previously said it was “disappointed” with the union’s decision to strike.

“UNFI has historically had a good working relationship with Teamsters Local 117 for the last 22 years,” the wholesaler said in a statement.

Read more: Teamsters Back on Strike at UNFI Depot

Last week the union said some co-ops supplied by UNFI have been supportive of the workers by refusing some deliveries from UNFI.

PCC Natural Markets, based in Seattle, encouraged UNFI to reach an agreement with the Teamsters and said it had begun “exploring other long-term options” for sourcing product.

“As a cooperative with longstanding values respecting both our own workforce and those of our many partners, PCC strongly supports the right to freely engage in collective bargaining, the right to equitable pay, fair benefits, and safe working conditions,” the co-op said in a statement.

UNFI supplies most of PCC’s grocery and dairy product and a “substantial amount” of its body care and wellness items, the chain said.

The Teamsters also called for a boycott of UNFI’s products at Whole Foods Market.

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