We have a problem and it’s staring back at you from our shelves.
United Natural Food, Inc. (UNFI) is the number one natural food distributor in the U.S. It distributes much of the non-local grocery, dairy, bulk, cleaning supplies and HABA brands on our shelves. Although there are other small scale regional suppliers, UNFI has the toe hold on wholesale prices as they own or leverage deals with many of the brands they distribute (and we sell) AND is in bed with the mega-chain, Whole Foods. READ THIS
Mr. Bob Oaks started this conversation via our Co-op Web site (see Corporatocracy)
in July 2012 by addressing UNFI’s expansive nature disregarding small scale producers while monopolizing large scale organics and marketing questionable HABA products. Bob very effectively concluded that our cooperative community must realize the need to focus our purchases on local products and minimize our support of and reliance on UNFI.
Bob also bulleted UNFI’s history of violating labor rights, demonstrated this past December when the company fired workers at the Auburn, WA warehouse facility who were forced to strike due to low wages and undesirable working conditions. In total, 45 unfair labor practice violations have been cited against UNFI by their workers and Teamsters 117 and UNFI refuses to negotiate. Most notably, UNFI has permanently replaced 72 of the striking employees. This action is expressly illegal according to the National Labor Relation’s Act. Unbelievably, the company has taken the stance that paying employees 25% less than the nation’s average grocery store worker is completely tolerable because it operates in the natural food market, as opposed to the mainstream grocery market, from which these averages are calculated. UNFI clearly holds itself to a lower standard as an employer, while directing our local and regional food systems down a monopolistic, unethical, and self-serving path.
Lucky for us, our coordinators are taking action. When possible, alternative sourcing of our favorite non-local products are being used and information is posted in the store related to UNFI brands that are still on the shelf. Although many UNFI brands remain in inventory, we will not be reordering these products until the distributor responds with a fair and reasonable contract for its workers. Member action is possible by boycotting UNFI brands – refer to the in-store signage for more information. Also, members will find an in-store petition urging UNFI to negotiate fair labor practices for its employees and a collection jar in support of the striking workers hardship fund. Alternatively, Co-op Members go to UNFIdrivenbygreed.com, and click “DONATE HERE”. The Co-op Board of Directors is composing a letter to UNFI stating our support of the striking workers and our desire for them to bargain fairly.
If you would like to learn more about the Teamsters strike against UNFI and/or what UNFI brands to boycott, please see the following links:
Board of Directors