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Strike at United Natural Foods ends; workers make good-faith offer to return
Striking warehouse workers and drivers at United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) made an unconditional, good-faith offer to return to work Wednesday.
The workers – 163 warehouse employees and drivers – collectively made the decision after a 2 p.m. meeting at the Teamsters building in Tukwila.
With the employer's acceptance of the workers' offer, the strike officially ended at 4:30 p.m. The picket lines at the UNFI distribution center in Auburn were taken down at that time.
Negotiations between the union and UNFI are scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 20.
"We are pleased to announce the end of the strike," said Tracey A. Thompson, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 117. "We intend to hold UNFI to its stated commitment to return to the bargaining table and bargain a fair contract in good-faith with its employees."
The overwhelming majority of Teamsters at UNFI honored the three-day strike, which began on Monday evening as a result of numerous unfair labor practice charges filed against the company.
Picketing workers at UNFI were joined by dozens of their fellow Teamsters throughout the grocery warehouse industry, including workers from Seattle Cold Storage, and the Unified Grocers, Fred Meyer, and Safeway distribution centers.
"The strike sent a strong message to UNFI that it needs to respect its workers and respect the bargaining process," said Chris Tarrats, a driver who has worked at UNFI for six years. "My co-workers and I felt it was important to send that message, but also to keep the strike short so that we would minimize the disruption and inconvenience to our customers during the holiday season."