Saturday, December 15, 2012

At 9:00 p.m. on Dec 13th, Teamsters Local 117 voted to resume their strike against United Natural Foods, Inc (UNFI). After a two-day strike on December 10th and 11th, UNFI accepted the worker's good-faith, unconditional offer to return to work. However, on Dec 13th, UNFI told 72 returning warehouse workers that they will be permanently replaced, prompting the union's return to the picket line. The union has also filed new unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).   Read the Teamsters’ full press release at:

How does the strike affect the Olympia Food Co-op?
  • UNFI is the Co-op’s largest supplier.  They provide 60-70% of the food we stock in the store including packaged foods, dairy, frozen, cleaning products, and body care. Most of the Co-op’s sales are tied to UNFI deliveries as well.  
  • Produce, deli, body care, and meat will be less affected by the strike as they have many other sources and order less from UNFI.
  • The Co-op has supported the Teamsters’ struggle since August.  We have sent letters, informed our members, and helped with publicity. We also advocated for other Washington, Idaho and Montana Co-ops to support the union.
  • The Co-op will order with UNFI for one week while awaiting the outcome of federal mediation between UNFI and the Union on Thursday, December 20th.. During this time staff will create accounts with alternate distributors. Here’s why: when the Union went on strike on Dec 10th, the Co-op cancelled our orders for Dec 13th in support of striking workers.  When the strike ended, we placed our Dec 15th orders. The Co-op Board of Directors met on Dec. 13th.  Supplies and inventory were dwindling.  They reviewed the Co-op Mission Statement which directs them to make good food accessible to more people, support efforts to increase democratic process, see to the long term health of the business, and support efforts to foster a socially and economically egalitarian society. In the short term (one week), the Board chose a path to provide for members’ immediate needs while staff develop alternative suppliers in order to support the Teamsters in the longer term.  This balances our support of the strike with our contractual obligations.
  • The union supports our immediate position.  They have appreciated our support all along and supported us in seeing to the long term health of the business. They have encouraged us to seek alternative distributors that are Union shops.
What can members and shoppers expect during the strike?
  • There may be many out of stock items. The strike and the replacement workers are impacting operations and supply at the Auburn warehouse. Affected departments will continue working hard to source UNFI items from other distributors, to minimize the impact as much as possible upon shopping.
  • Some of the items on the shelves will have been processed and delivered by non-union replacement workers.  We will have signs on the store doors that inform members how to determine which items were delivered by UNFI.  This can be determined by looking at the shelf tag below the stocked item.  For most items, if there is a long bar code on the shelf tag, it was delivered from UNFI.
What else can we do to support striking workers?
  • Join the picket line! Adding to the Teamsters presence on the line is always good. The warehouse is only 40 minutes away by car. Bring cameras to document and take musical instruments to get folks singing, chanting, and laughing.
  • Bring food and hot coffee to picketing workers!
  • If the strike/lock-out continues, you can donate to a strike fund! Go the website for info on how to make donations.

Please contact the Board if you have questions or comments at