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More than 150 Teamster members go on strike outside distribution center

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) - Drivers, warehouse and maintenance workers with the Teamsters Local 414 went on strike Thursday morning less than two weeks before Christmas.

Workers bundled up at the Fort Wayne United Natural Foods Inc. distribution center to protest what they're calling the company's "violations of federal laws that protect workers' rights."

Local 414's bargaining agreement with United Natural Foods Inc. on Sept. 14.

Now, 158 teamster members who supply food and related products to grocery stores in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, West Virginia, and Kentucky are going on strike.

The union said grocery stores in those locations will likely be affected by the strike.

"UNFI's attacks on its Fort Wayne workers are a show of disrespect for the men and women who are the backbone of its operations and have been for decades," George Gerdes, Teamsters Local 414 Secretary-Treasurer said in a press release.

"The Teamsters Union does not condone abusive behavior by employers. Local 414 members will fight to ensure they are treated fairly and with respect."

Strikers are demanding their company to bargain with them through their union.

UNFI released a statement to ABC21:

"It is regrettable that Teamsters Local 414 decided to initiate an illegal strike after refusing for months to sit down with us and despite our efforts to bargain in good faith to reach a new contract agreement in Fort Wayne. Local 414 took this action before UNFI was even able to deliver a proposed wages and benefits package. While this decision is unnecessarily reckless, UNFI is implementing robust contingency plans to maintain business continuity and support our customers and local communities. Meeting customer needs is our top priority, and UNFI is dedicated to taking necessary actions toward this end despite this unlawful union activity."

UNFI Fort Wayne Distribution Center
Teamsters Local 414 went on strike Thursday morning outside. Dec. 12, 2019.

Kayla Crandall

Kayla Crandall is an Emmy award-winning journalist. She serves as the Social Media and Digital Content Manager at WPTA. Follow her on Twitter @KaylerJayne.

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