PT Food Co-op

Port Townsend Food Co-op, 414 Kearney St., Port Townsend, WA, 98368
Open Every Day 8am-9pm
Phone: (360) 385-2883

UNFI strike

Some of our member/owners have inquired about the United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) drivers’ strike at the Auburn distribution center.

The Food Co-op regrets the labor strike between the UNFI drivers and its management. This strike is confined to the Auburn distribution center alone because UNFI’s other distribution center drivers are non-union. As a cooperative, we strongly support the right to engage in collective bargaining, fair benefits and pay, and safe working conditions. In September, along with other co-ops in the area, I wrote to UNFI management and urged them to negotiate with their drivers in good faith to reach a settlement. Since the strike began, Grocery Manager Khy Griffin has, on several occasions, encouraged UNFI management to find a resolution also. The Food Co-op does not have a position on the strike where UNFI management vs. union is concerned, because we do not have all of the details.

This situation has highlighted a vulnerability of our supply chain, and we believe there are both short- and long-term solutions. UNFI supplies the majority of our grocery, dairy, and body care and wellness products, and the Co-op is under contract to use UNFI as its primary supplier. In the short term, to break that contract would result in a substantial increase in cost for those products which our member/owners would have to bear. We are exploring other long-term, secondary wholesale options to diversify our suppliers and support organizations that align with our cooperative values. We continue to voice our support of these values to the National Cooperative Grocers Association and UNFI.

While we are now accepting deliveries from non-union UNFI drivers, we believe the best solution is not to shop elsewhere since UNFI also supplies other grocery stores on the peninsula. Instead, we urge our member/owners to buy locally produced items as much as possible. Toward that end, we ask our owner/members to keep in mind that the Food Co-op has more local products than any other retailer in Jefferson County and has the only WSDA-certified organic produce department on the Olympic Peninsula.

Kenna Eaton, General Manager

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4 Responses to “UNFI strike” Comments are currently closed.

  1. Might I suggest a long term cooperative effort with co-ops in Oregon & Washington to organize and invest in a cooperatively run warehouse like Co-op Partners Warehouse in Minnesota?
    It can be done. And co-ops should do it!

    Ben

    • Kathie says:

      That’s a great idea, Ben. One of the goals of our five -year strategic plan, which is published in our latest newsletter, is food system development. It reads, in part, “collaborate with area food co-ops, Jefferson LandWorks Collaborative, and other community partners to:

      Strategically address gaps in food production, storage, and distribution
      Develop local and regional food security plans
      Raise comunity awareness and support for local food production

  2. Nancy Edgerton says:

    I notice that the specials catalog hasn’t been updated since November. Is that a result of the strike? Is there an updated specials catalog at the front desk for January? Should I do anything different when I’m placing a special order with UNFI this month?

    • Kathie says:

      Hi Nancy,
      The specials are now up-to-date. We’ve had some staff transition over the past few months, and some things didn’t get done. Thanks for giving us the nudge!

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