Hunts Point Market Workers Ratify New Contract

Workers at the nation's largest wholesale produce market ratified a new contract Wednesday, just days after athe union and managers at the market avoided a strike that would have forced New York City restaurants, grocery stores and homes to scramble for fresh fruit and vegetables, according to union and management officials.

About 97 percent of the 1,300 union members employed by Hunts Point Market in the South Bronx votedto ratify the deal, according to a statement released Saturday by Daniel Kane Jr., president of Teamsters Local 202. As part of the deal, the workers will receive significant raises each year of the new contract. 

"It's our best wage and benefits package in two decades," said Kane.

Details about the agreement were not disclosed.

Workers at the market were driven to the brink of a walkout last week after the union rejected proposed salary increases that it said weren't in line with the cost of living. A strike was set to begin on Jan. 9, but the union pushed back a walkout until Saturday so a federal mediator could get involved.

A walkout would have meant that restaurants, grocery stores and homes within about a 50-mile radius of the South Bronx produce hub would have to scramble for fresh fruit and vegetables. The market's management had said measures were in place to keep the massive building open.

The last strike at Hunts Point Market was in 1986.

After ratifying the new contract, Kane called on the city to renovate Hunts Point. 

"This is only the first step in ensuring that Hunts Point Market remains a home for good jobs in the long term," said Kane. "Now it's time for our City government to step up and ensure that this public property has the necessary infrastructure to meet 21st-century needs."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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