Some 1,400 workers at Hunts Point Terminal Market in the Bronx — the largest wholesale produce market in the world — are on strike, demanding wage increases and better health benefits. The strikers, organized by Teamsters Local 202, include dock workers, warehouse workers, truck drivers, and others who are demanding a $1/hour increase in wages along with improved benefits. The bosses offered $0.32/hour as part of a three-year contract.
These workers are, quite literally, responsible for feeding much of the populations of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. They’ve put their lives on the line during the pandemic. Hundreds of market workers have been infected since the Covid-19 pandemic began, and several have died while working to make sure people are fed. They are called “essential” and referred to as “heroes”, but management does not find these workers essential enough to compensate them for their labor and for risking their lives.
Hunts Point has stayed open throughout the pandemic and has collected more than $15 million in government pandemic relief (in the form of Paycheck Protection Program loans), but still refuses to meet the modest demands of the people who keep the business running. The bosses say the workers are “lucky to have jobs,” but we counter that the bosses are lucky to have workers — who show up despite the risk to their health and the health of their loved ones.
Healthcare workers stand in solidarity with striking Hunts Point Terminal Market workers. We have treated essential workers like you in our hospitals and held their hands as they died. We have treated your family members who were hospitalized due to your exposure. We share the stress of being employed while supporting more and more family members as they are laid off from their jobs. We have experienced the police monitoring us and harassing us on our picket lines. We know all too well what it means to be thanked and “hero-ized” without any effort to make our working conditions safer or compensate us more.
We admire the Hunts Point workers for their dedication to our city during this pandemic, and we admire them for their strike.
|Mallika Govindan, MD|
|Jiana Menendez, MD, MPH|
|Jonathon Hurd, RN|