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Organic Consumers Association

Food Co-Op's Support of Striking Workers to Cost UNFI $100,000

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Citing "months of labor violations" by its main supplier, Olympia Food Co-op, a two-store natural and organic retailer in Olympia, Wash., is supporting striking workers by refusing to place orders with United Natural Foods Inc. for one week, costing the top U.S. distributor of organic, natural and specialty foods more than $100,000.

"The Olympia Food Co-op will cost UNFI more than $100,000 in sales over seven days by refusing to order through them. We hope this sends a strong message to UNFI that the integrity of our supply chain is important to us," said Olympia Food's Harry Levine. "UNFI must end labor violations and return to good faith bargaining."

The strike started Dec. 10 after 168 workers and drivers at the Auburn, Wash., distribution center rejected UNFI's latest contract offer, which included a 10.8 percent wage increase over three years and acceptance of several union proposals. UNFI said the offer is "fair, reasonable and competitive."

UNFI's contract with Teamsters Local 117 expired in May. Negotiations since have been stymied by an impasse over money, which the workers say they don't get as much as workers at other companies doing the same job.

Citing the busy holiday season, UNFI, the nation's largest distributor of organic, natural and specialty foods, began using salaried personnel and staff from other facilities to fill in for the striking workers, in addition to hiring 72 permanent replacement workers.


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