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Hunts Point Produce Market Workers On Strike Over Wage Dispute

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The produce shelves at your neighborhood grocer may not be full soon because most of the workers at the Hunts Point Terminal Market in the Bronx are now on strike.

Workers say the dispute with their bosses is over a $1 per hour raise, CBS2's John Dias reported Sunday.

The direct demand is coming from more than 1,400 of New York's essential workers.

"Fighting for our rights and for better pay," said truck driver Wilford Alexander.

Every member of Teamsters Local 202 at the Hunts Point Terminal Produce Market is now on a full strike after the market denied their request for a $1-per-hour raise.

The market's counter-offer was an increase of 32 cents per hour.

"It's not good enough just to clap for them, and say they're essential. When they asked for a decent raise, a fair number, they should be told, 'Yes, you can have that, and thank you,'" said Teamsters Local 202 President Danny Kane.

From warehouse workers to truck drivers, these are the men and women the Teamsters union says helped feed the Tri-State Area during the coronavirus pandemic with a base salary of $40,000 per year.

"They can't telecommute, they can't phone it in. They have to show up," said Kane. "We are finally realizing these folks didn't become essential during the pandemic. They have been essential forever."

Most workers say they need the raise to help their families.

Jimmy Morales, a dock worker, said he puts in 10 hours a day, six days a week.

"We come here, work in the cold, rain, heat," Morales said.

Many of them are paying a price for working through the global health crisis.

"Infected, many, many were infected. I want to say 300 to 400 people infected," said Teamsters Local 202 VP Leonardo Servedio.

Six union workers have died of COVID-19, according to Servedio.

"Very angry that they have no remorse. They don't care," he said.

The Hunts Point Terminal Market is the largest wholesale produce market in the world. It provides to 22 million people in 49 states.

The union said without these workers to sort and deliver the products, the Tri-State Area's food supply will be greatly impacted.

The union hasn't staged strike like this in almost 35 years. Workers said they won't go back to work until they get the full raise.

No one from the Hunts Point Produce Market Cooperative would speak with CBS2 on camera.

In a statement, it said the market is still open for business and is disappointed that the union walked away from the bargaining table more than a week ago.


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