UNFI workers ratify new contract, end strike

TUKWILA (Feb. 8, 2013) — Early Thursday evening, warehouse workers and drivers, represented by Teamsters Local 117, overwhelmingly voted to ratify a fully-recommended 5-year contract agreement with United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI). The contract vote, which was held after a 3:30 p.m. meeting at the Teamsters building in Tukwila, officially ends the 9-week strike that started on Dec. 10 at the company’s distribution center in Auburn, WA. Picket lines at the facility were taken down at approximately 5:30 p.m. Thursday evening.

Warehouse workers and drivers will report to work early next week.

The agreement provides for the reinstatement of all workers, including the 72 who had been permanently replaced, health and welfare protections for workers, and meaningful wage increases.

“Workers at UNFI stood together courageously in difficult conditions to fight for dignity and respect,” said Tracey A. Thompson, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117.  “With the help of our community partners and a strong bargaining committee, workers were able to achieve a fair and just contract.”

Local 117 members say they are ready to return to work.  “Our customers are our number one priority,” said Robert Jurey, a warehouse worker and Shop Steward who has worked at UNFI’s Auburn facility for 13 years. “We look forward to getting back into the warehouse and back in our trucks so that we can continue to provide the highest-quality service to our customers.”

“Local 117 wishes to thank our many community partners for their unwavering support throughout this contract dispute,” Thompson said.

“We are also deeply grateful to all of the individuals, unions, co-ops, small grocers, and other community organizations that took actions in solidarity with the striking workers and to those who donated to the hardship fund set up to provide workers with financial relief. Your generosity has made a tremendous difference in the lives of the 160 workers and their families who have been impacted by the strike.”

For more information, visit the Teamsters 177 website.

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