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Hunts Point Produce Market workers celebrate the end of their strike, Jan. 24, 2021.
Hunts Point Produce Market workers celebrate the end of their strike.
Claudia Irizarry Aponte/THE CITY

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Hunts Point Produce Market Workers End Strike with a Raise

Workers at the Hunts Point Produce Market on Saturday morning approved a new three-year contract that will net them a raise and get them back to work Sunday.

Some 97% of workers voted in favor of the pact, ending strike that disrupted the Bronx-based hub — which touts supplying 60% of the region’s produce — for almost a week.

“They’ll be able to feed their families,” said Teamsters Local 202 President Daniel J. Kane Jr.

He added as workers around him cheered: “It’s the largest deal we’ve ever signed.”

Teamsters Local 2020 President Daniel Kane Jr. speaks about negotiations with Hunts Point Market management during the produce workers strike, Jan. 22, 2020.
Teamsters Local 2020 President Daniel Kane Jr. speaks about negotiations with Hunts Point Market management Friday afternoon,
Hiram Alejandro Durán/THE CITY

Over 1,400 workers voted to go on strike at midnight last Sunday over a wage dispute.

The workers had asked management for a $1-an-hour raise several weeks ago, arguing that they had worked nonstop to keep the city’s food supply going throughout the pandemic.

Negotiations disintegrated last week when management offered a 32-cent hourly boost instead.

Under the deal, workers will get a minimum 70-cent-per-hour raise in the first year, eventually rising to a $1.85 bump by the third year, Kane said.

That will push most of workforce past $20 an hour, said Kane, who added that employees would not be required to make an additional contribution to their family health care benefits as management had initially sought.

Word of the strike’s end sparked celebrations outside the market’s main gate on Edgewater Road.

“We fought hard, we did it,” said worker Luis Rivera. “I hope this inspires people all over the city, all over the country to fight for what they believe in.”

His colleague Jose Garcia called the deal a triumph for “essential workers everywhere.”

“This was a victory won by our struggle and all the people who came and supported us this week,” he said.

Widespread Attention

The strike at the sprawling produce hub attracted a host of local politicians and activists over the last week. The workers also garnered support from other unions and Teamsters locals across the region, from Philadelphia to New England.

But a visit from U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-The Bronx/Queens) on Wednesday night catapulted the strike onto the national stage.

On the day Joe Biden was inaugurated as president, Ocasio-Cortez handed out Cafe Bustelo and hand warmers to workers. The Bronx native was joined by city Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and local Assemblymember Amanda Septimo (D-The Bronx).

Ocasio-Cortez spoke to the workers about her own experience in the food service industry.

“The more that we talk about this, the more that everybody can put on the pressure so that we not just get a buck, but so that we can change lives for people across this country,” she said Wednesday night.

On Friday, nearly a dozen New York congressional Democrats — led by Ocasio-Cortez and freshman Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY), who represents the district — called on the federal government to intervene on the ongoing wage disputes, the Daily News reported.

The lawmakers also demanded federal mediators to investigate alleged abuse by law enforcement at the strike — including the Tuesday night arrest of five workers at the picket line when 300 NYPD cops in riot gear clashed with strikers.

Kane said Saturday that Gov. Andrew Cuomo also reached out.

A spokesperson for the Hunts Point Produce Market was not immediately available for comment.

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