PROVIDENCE, R.I.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--United Natural Foods, Inc. (NYSE: UNFI) (“UNFI” or the “Company”), North America's premier and largest food wholesaler delivering the widest variety of products to a diverse and expansive customer base across the country, today issued the below statements regarding a strike initiated by Teamsters Local 414 (“Local 414”) in Fort Wayne, Indiana:
Jill Sutton, UNFI’s Chief Legal Officer, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, commented:
“We’re deeply disturbed that Local 414’s leadership in Fort Wayne, Indiana has chosen to disregard the best interests of its own members and orchestrate a counterproductive illegal strike. UNFI put on the table a generous four-year contract offer that would preserve health plan benefits for current associates, maintain pension contributions, and provide strong annual wage increases in line with other facilities in the Midwest. In exchange for delivering this stability and security to our valued associates, we asked Local 414’s leaders to meet us halfway on updating decades-old work rules and operational policies with terms aligned to other standard union agreements across the country. Unfortunately, Local 414’s leadership rejected a generous offer that would have provided meaningful security and stability to associates over a single provision that is completely out of line with our other contracts or common market practice. We’re particularly disappointed that during a time when Americans are facing extreme economic pressures, Local 414’s leadership is unwilling to protect its members by accepting our four-year contract that includes annual wage increases and preserved benefits. In contrast, UNFI has been putting our associates’ interests first throughout the pandemic, including by instituting a $2 per hour temporary state of emergency bonus, investing in industry-leading cleaning and safety practices, relaxing time-off policies, and easing production standards.”
Jim Gehr, UNFI’s Chief Supply Chain Officer, added:
“UNFI will not allow a localized labor dispute in Fort Wayne to impede our long-term customer service in the Midwest region or anywhere else, especially during the pandemic. We’re implementing robust contingency plans and tapping trusted third-party partners to help maintain business continuity during this unprecedented time.
Mr. Gehr concluded:
"UNFI remains steadfast in supporting its associates while adapting its business to new economic realities and shifting customer expectations. Since the pandemic began, we’ve also spared no expense when it comes to investing in industry-leading safety and risk management initiatives designed to help keep our associates, customers, and partners safe amidst the pandemic. The reality is that in order for UNFI to meet the needs of its various stakeholders, including associates across the country deserving of strong wages and benefits, it is important to have labor agreements that allow us to be flexible and nimble in today’s changing food distribution environment. This is exactly the type of agreement we have worked out with other unions and have been trying to work towards in Fort Wayne.”
About United Natural Foods
UNFI is North America's premier food wholesaler delivering the widest variety of products to customer locations throughout North America including natural product superstores, independent retailers, conventional supermarket chains, ecommerce retailers, and food service customers. By providing this deeper 'full-store' selection and compelling brands for every aisle, UNFI is uniquely positioned to deliver great food, more choices, and fresh thinking to customers everywhere. Combined with SUPERVALU, UNFI is the largest publicly-traded grocery distributor in America. To learn more about how UNFI is Moving Food Forward, visit www.unfi.com.