Strike looming at Hunts Point Produce Market

January 17, 2012 5:41:57 AM PST
A labor dispute is threatening to disrupt the supply of two thirds of the fresh fruit and vegetables to the New York area. Union workers at the Hunts Point Produce Market in the South Bronx could walk off their jobs next week if there is no contract agreement.

The freezing cold wasn't the only part of this day that felt bitter to these teamsters at the Hunts Point Produce Market in the Bronx, a labor dispute has workers like Jose Argueta wondering if he'll get a contract, or face a strike in the coming days.

"We need a little bit more money. Everybody needs it, everybody got kids, we got bills to pay, a lot of guys have mortgages," Argueta said.

Workers aren't the only ones that have a lot at stake.

Local produce markets and restaurants rely on the distribution from Hunts Point and so do customers who value their corner stores.

It's where 65 percent of the produce comes from the co-operative market in the Bronx.

"We live on these fruits and vegetables, and I think we'd be devastated and with the economy right now, I don't think we could afford the higher prices of a strike," said Lisa Callicotte, a produce customer.

Friday, the management at Hunts Point insisted they are trying to hammer out a fair deal, "In the unfortunate event of a strike, the co-op members are committed to keeping the market open and safely maintaining the flow of fresh fruits and vegetables through the market to the millions of customers we serve."

Considering the volume that would be tough.

Union leaders notified management that they will not strike right at Monday's midnight deadline, but they are authorized to strike any time after that.

"We've made a gesture and we would anticipate if the other side would like to get a contract, to make a gesture to us," said Danny Kaye, of Teamsters Local 202.

"I stand behind my local 202 and if a strike is what's necessary, than a strike is what we're going to have," said Rene Gely, a warehouse worker.

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