Food / Jobs

Produce workers ratify new contract

Businesses agree to raises, ward off strike

Workers at the Hunts Point Terminal Market signed a new, three-year contract with the business owners in January, ending threats of what would have been the first strike in 30 years at the nation’s largest produce market.

Local Teamsters 202, the union that represents the workers, had been demanding pay raises of $25 per week from business owners at the country’s largest produce market. The owners had offered workers $16 an hour for the contract’s first year and $22 for the next two years.

Ultimately, workers settled for raises of $20 per week for the first year of the contract, then $22 in the second year and $24 in the third year.

In addition, workers demanded owners shoulder more of the cost of their health care benefits and newer employees be paid the same as more senior workers for doing the same jobs.

“It’s our best wage and benefits package in two decades,” said Danny Kane, president of Teamsters Local 202 in a written statement. Ninety-seven percent of the market’s 1,300 workers voted to approve the contract.

Still, Kane said in a phone interview shortly after the contract had been approved, it’s time the city invested in shoring up the market’s badly outdated infrastructure.

“We see it as a no-brainer,” he said. “The landlord should fix the house.” The battle to get the city to update the market “has been talked about since the Giuliani administration,” he added, wryly pointing out that the produce market was “a state-of-the-art facility in 1967.”

The city owns the waterfront land on which the produce, meat and fish markets are located. The markets, Kane said, are an underestimated contributor to the city’s vibrancy and unique character, and its workers are too often overlooked.

“People come to New York for the culture, and food is a big part of it,” he said.


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