On January 23rd, employees of New York City's Hunts Point Terminal Produce Market, led by Teamsters Local 202, reached an agreement with management ending a week-long strike.
Hunts Point market is the world's largest wholesale produce market, according to the Food and Environment Reporting Network. It is located in the south Bronx, which was an early epicenter of COVID-19, including hundreds of cases traced to the market itself.
The pandemic has brought increased attention to labor practices across the food industry, from meatpackers and distributors to cooks, cashiers, servers, and delivery drivers.
The strike drew the support of Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other lawmakers and celebrities, and highlights growing outcry from essential food-industry workers.
November saw 100 truck drivers working for UNFI in New York's Hudson Valley vote to strike, as well as 70 drivers and warehouse workers for Cash-Wa Distributing in Fargo, North Dakota. Both groups said their respective employers were not doing enough to protect them from contracting COVID-19.
Ocasio-Cortez, speaking to the crowd at Hunts Point Market, referenced restaurant employees as well. “I used to be a waitress,” she said, “We had to be paid less than a living wage. We got exposed to... harassment and degradation, with no one to stick up for us.”
The agreement reached at Hunts Point Market is seen as a victory for the union and includes the biggest raise ever won by Local 202's bargaining unit.
As the Pandemic Exposes Low Wages and Unsafe Conditions at Food-Distribution Centers, Workers Are Striking- FERN's Ag Insider
Inside the End of the Hunts Point Produce Market Strike- Grub Street