Hunts Point Produce Market workers set to strike as negotiations break down
The unionized workers at Hunts Point Produce Market are set
to strike on Sunday after they say negotiations broke down on the back of a
“stingy” offer by market management.
Members of Teamsters Local 202 voted to go on strike at
12:01 a.m. Sunday.
A release from the union says that 1,400
members of Local 202 “have kept New York fed through the pandemic.”
“The majority of the workers have an average base salary
between $18 and $21 an hour. Employers in the market, who collectively bill
billions of dollars in annual sales, received more than $15 million in
forgivable PPP loans during the pandemic,” according to the release.
The union is expected to hold a news conference on Sunday
outside the market at 11 a.m.
The Hunts Point Produce Market Cooperative released a
statement on the labor negotiations:
“The pandemic has had a significant impact on our business
– last spring we were down 30%. But we made a commitment to keeping the
fresh produce flowing to our region and to keep our employees safe while having
the opportunity to continue to work earning fair pay and benefits during this
difficult time. The Co-op members and their firms have invested nearly $3
mil in personal protective equipment and changes to our operations to maximize
the protection of our workers and customers."
The statement continued, "We are very proud to
have kept our union workers – the vast majority of whom live right here in the
Bronx - working and on payroll with full health benefits as the Bronx has seen
an unemployment rate of 40%. Even with the continued uncertainty
surrounding the pandemic, we are offering our dedicated workers wage and
benefit increases over the next three years that are a multiple of the current
annual cost of living. We are continuing to negotiate in good faith with
the Union to keep our workers on the job and produce available in our region.”