Arbitrator Joseph Duffy has sustained grievance filed by Teamsters Locals 117 and 313 alleging that UNFI/Supervalu, Inc breached its cba when it denied bargaining unit employees the opportunity to transfer to a new facility after their current facility was scheduled to be closed. Arbitrator Duffy’s award can be found here.
The applicable language of the cba provided:
1.01.2 Movement of Existing Facility: In the event that the Employer moves an existing facility to any location within the jurisdiction of Joint Council of Teamsters No. 28, as currently defined excluding current facilities under the jurisdiction of and the service area of Teamsters Local Union No. 690, the terms of this contract shall continue to apply with respect to the new facility. In addition, all employees working under the terms of this Agreement at the old facility shall be afforded the opportunity to work at the new facility under the same terms and conditions and without any loss of seniority or other contractual rights or benefits. The designated Union will be required to show a majority representation in accordance with controlling law. In addition, the parties agree to enter into effects bargaining in accordance with controlling law regarding the impact on employees of the movement of an existing facility.
Rejecting the Company’s position, Arbitrator Duffy found that the cba contained an “express promise” to allow all employees working in Tacoma facility to work at Centralia under the terms of the Tacoma agreement. Contrary to the position of the Company, he found that the dispute involved a question of contract interpretation, that the Union had not made a demand for recognition at Centralia and that “[t]he fact that a question concerning representation may exist at the new facility in Centralia is a separate issue from this contract interpretation dispute and the representation issue is not subject to this arbitration.” He ordered the Company to allow employees at Tacoma to transfer to Centralia under the same terms and conditions they had in Tacoma.
The Company has announced that it is “reviewing all potential actions with the National Labor Relations Board” and will pursue its claim in federal court. UPDATE: UNFI plans to fight ruling in contract dispute with Tacoma distribution workers