Hunts Point sees 1,400 workers strike
Those on the Hunts Point Produce Market knew this year would present a unique challenge after all that 2020 threw at them, but 1,400 striking workers have gotten 2021 off to a complicated start for the largest produce market in the world.
The unionized workers of Teamsters Local 202 at the Hunts Point Produce Market went on strike on Sunday, Jan. 17 at 12:01 a.m. after negotiations broke down over a wage increase: the union requested a $1-per-hour raise and the market reportedly countered with a 32-cent-per-hour offer. According to the union, the majority of the workers have an average base salary between $18 and $21 an hour.
"The Hunts Point Produce Market remains open for business," the Hunts Point Produce Market Cooperative said in a statement. "Our top priority is maintaining the flow of fresh produce to our region. We have taken a number of steps, including coordinating with the NYPD and bringing in a private security firm, to assure safe access is maintained for trucks bringing fresh healthy produce in and out of the market, as well as for all who need to come purchase produce or are coming to work at the market.
"We are disappointed that the union walked away from the bargaining table more than a week ago and have chosen to focus instead on having employees walk off the job, which negatively impacts its members and the community," it said.
The market supplies 60 percent of the produce for New York City and its reach extends well beyond New York. Normally the Hunts Point Produce Market and its 30-plus family-owned merchants handle thousands of varieties of fruits and vegetables daily, with more than 210 million packages of produce passing through in a typical year. In 2020 the disruption of restaurant/foodservice business and shifting retail and shopping trends resulted in a 40-60 percent loss in the market's business.