(Washington, D.C.)—Today, the Teamsters delivered a letter to the board of directors of United Natural Foods, Inc. (NASDAQ: UNFI), urging the board to work with stakeholders to produce an enforceable and transparent code of conduct that upholds workers’ fundamental rights at the company and throughout its supply chain.
Noting United Natural Foods, Inc.’s 2009 announcement with Walden Asset Management that it will develop a code of conduct, the Teamsters asked the board to adopt a code that is based on the International Labor Organization standards and that applies to both internal operations and suppliers.
The union also asked the board to enter into an agreement guaranteeing workers’ right to join a union and bargain collectively without influence or interference from United Natural Foods, Inc.’s management.
“United Natural Foods, Inc. has agreed to develop a code of conduct, and we will hold the company accountable to ensure that it establishes a code that eliminates the anti-union abuses and exploitation of workers at UNFI and throughout its supply chain,” said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa.
As a leading distributor of natural, organic and specialty foods and related products, United Natural Foods, Inc.’s supply chain includes domestic farm workers who are exposed to the most exploitative conditions of work, including extensive exposure to health and safety hazards, child labor, and exclusion from labor law protections of the National Labor Relations Act, said the letter. The company also imports goods each year from countries such as Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and China.
“We commend United Natural Foods, Inc.’s commitment to sustainability and hope to see the company live up to that commitment by formally adopting and adhering to international labor standards,” Hoffa said. “A supply chain that tramples on workers’ rights is not sustainable.”
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.