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Teamsters urge boycott of Darigold

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By Dennis Box, The Courier-Herald

Picketers have been waving "Boycott Darigold" signs outside Bonney Lake Supermarket sporadically over the last three weeks. The boycott began Aug. 31 when WestFarms Foods locked out its union employees, Teamsters Local 66, in a contract dispute. WestFarm Foods is a food manufacturing company that uses the Darigold name on its products.

The dispute began when WestFarm Foods decided to subcontract work to a non-union facility known as Rowe. The union believed this to be a backdoor means for the company to begin a non-union operation. The union also stated that WestFarm Foods subcontracted delivery work to Ruan Transportation, causing union drivers to lose their jobs.

Lon Snyder, a picketer in front of the Bonney Lake Supermarket said, "they started outsourcing work and that caused at least 60 to 70 drivers to be lose their jobs. I've been with them for 17 years, but they locked us out on Labor Day after one contract offer."

WestFarm Foods spokesperson Rae Klein said, "The company needs the flexibility to be able to outsource. None of our competition has restrictions against outsourcing and that keeps their costs lower. Our biggest competitor is Wilcox and that's a non-union diary. We are up against a very difficult situation."

Since November, union members have been picketing area stores asking people to boycott Darigold products because of the lockout and outsourcing. Prior to November the boycott had been restricted to the Darigold manufacturing plants, but a judge placed a temporary restraining order against the union on Nov. 12. According to spokesperson Rae Klein, the restraining order was for illegal picketing at the plants. The order was lifted on Dec. 5.

The union stated that some area stores have been responding to the boycott. A Bonney Lake Supermarket spokesperson said people had been asking questions regarding the pickets, but there are no plans to remove Darigold products from their shelves.

Dennis Box can be reached at dbox@courierherald.com

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