The employees in the Hunts Point Produce Market have showed up to work throughout the pandemic and done their job. Yet, they are being treated like second class citizens.
Fed up with management only offering them a 32 cent raise, they went on strike on Sunday.
The 1,400 members of Teamster Local 202 kept New Yorkers fed during COVID-19, with an average base salary between $18 and $21 an hour. However, 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.
On Jan. 14, the Teamsters were joined by elected officials as they demanded sufficient monetary compensation.
“For too long our society has over valued some work and undervalued others,” exclaimed Danny Kane, president of Teamsters 202. “I was raised to believe all work has value.”
According to Kane, management told them they are lucky to have jobs and that the line of people to replace them would stretch around the block.
Management should be thanking them for coming in every day during the pandemic, he stressed. Instead they are showing them disrespect.
“The workers in this place are some of the hardest workers in this country,” he exclaimed. “They scratch out a living to make sure every day the food gets delivered to where it needs to be. I believe our members deserve more than that dollar. How about paying them a decent wage so they can feed their families.”
Among the elected officials who voiced their support for the Teamsters were Assemblywomen Amanda Septimo and Nathalia Fernandez and Council Members Vanessa Gibson and Rafael Salamanca.
Teamsters 202 has a special place in the heart for Salamanca, as his father Rafael Salamanca Sr., worker there for 18 years. The councilman is disgusted with how the management is treating its employees.
“It’s unacceptable during these times to say we’re only going to offer you 30 cents,” he said. “A dollar is not a lot to ask for. As New Yorkers, as Bronxites, we must stand behind them and make sure they get paid their wages.”
Septimo shared his sentiments.
“We’re all here to demand an essential wage for essential workers,” she said. “To exploit high unemployment numbers and suggest these workers can be replaced is immoral. They are not fighting this fight alone. Elected officials will be fighting with them.”