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Trouble at United Natural Foods Inc. (NYSE: UNFI)

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A labor dispute with one of the nation’s largest grocery distributors is shaping to be one of the biggest in recent memory. Corporate Transparency has confirmed through multiple sources that United Natural Foods Inc (UNFI) is facing labor action in multiple states that could affect both investors and consumers at large grocery chains like Cub Foods, Whole Foods Market, Coborn’s and SuperValu.

The campaign against UNFI appears to be powered by rank and file members of the Teamsters Union pushing for action on social media. Public social media posts with the hashtag “#FUnfi” include UNFI workers in at least Washington, Minnesota, California, Illinois, Iowa, North Dakota, Indiana and Oregon. If the Union is indeed planning nationwide work stoppages, it is unclear if UNFI could find enough replacement workers to keep grocery store shelves stocked and keep the dispute from affecting its major customers.

The dispute seems to center around UNFI’s purchase of grocery distributor SuperValu last year. My sources tell me that UNFI has began either subcontracting or moving significant portions of work in some areas, affecting the livelihoods of longtime employees and potentially lowering food safety standards for many of the food products we take for granted every day. According to Wall Street investment analysts, UNFI stock value has dropped over 77% in the past year, and in an increasingly competitive market it is unclear how power struggles with their workforce will benefit their investors or their customers.

I called a senior level UNFI official to get a comment from the company regarding the impending actions. He abruptly hung up when I mentioned the workers grievances and the possibility of work stoppages. I had hoped to get answers about how the contracting out of former good paying union jobs to lower paid workers fit into their “Mission to transform the world of food,” and in particular their commitment to “do the right thing: put safety and integrity at the forefront of everything we do.”

Many questions remain unanswered: Do UNFI’s clients and customers know about the employee actions? Does UNFI have a plan to deal with work stoppages? How will UNFI guarantee that citizens around the country have access to affordable and healthy food in the event of a national work stoppages?

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David Gilbert-Pederson
Reporting for CoporateTransparency.org

  1. MichaelMichael08-09-2019

    UNFI reminds me every day how fortunate I am to have worked for Supervalu for over 30 years. You can’t picture a more unscrupulous, greedy, anti-labor, anti-working class company. Supervalu was recently purchased by UNITED NATURAL FOODS INC. (UNFI) Will relocate to Centralia by the end of 2019 closing the doors on its Tacoma facility that has been here for over 125 years. UNFI also decided current labor contracts are no longer valid even though there is incredibly specific language in those contracts that addresses the transfer of work to a different facility. I’m ashamed to say I work there (for the time being) but I am proud as hell of my Teamster Brothers and Sister’s patience and camaraderie given the unreal tactics UNFI has implemented including SCAB LABOR! Companies like UNFI will decimate middle-class wages, lower property values and increase the tax burden on local families.

    I will NEVER shop a UNFI supplied store. I encourage you to make the same decision.

  2. Eugene E. Bates lllEugene E. Bates lll08-10-2019

    I was working there over 16 hours a day at times operating heavy equipment.
    I was sleeping in the parking lot and lost my marriage.
    Oh and double time is something these companies don’t honor anymore.
    Un American!
    They fired me under false acuations of insubordination over the long hours.

  3. MickeyMickey08-10-2019

    I worked for UNFI for 15 years, as a general labour, lead worker, warehouse, and Transportation Supervisor. And it is ONLY now that my confidentiality agreement has expired that I can say that they HAVE NO REGARD OR RESPECT for their employees. They R seen as work equipment, to be used till unrepairable and then replaced. I can GUARANTEE you that in right to work states Scab employees are already being looked in to. I know this because I participated in such training when the transportation team in Washington went on strike about 7 years ago. As their say say ‘ Greedy by Nature.”

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