HUNTS POINT, The Bronx (WABC) -- A midnight deadline was looming large for 1,100 workers at the Hunts Point Produce Market as efforts continued to reach a new contract.
Their three-year contract was set to expire at the end of the day Tuesday, and Teamsters Local 202 President Daniel Kane Jr. said both sides remain far apart regarding a wage increase for the workers.
He said management offered a 30-cent per hour pay raise, while union leaders want a dollar-per-hour increase. The union members voted unanimously Saturday to reject management's contract offer and authorize a strike.
"The members of this market, the workers here, are some of the hardest workers in New York, feeding all of New York CIty," said Kane. "They are out here, they start at about 8 or 9 o'clock at night and they'll work all the way to the morning. Shift difference to shift start. The hard, back-breaking work they do deserves a fair raise and an increase."
"A fair contract, nothing overboard," said union driver Pablo Villaman. "I'm not trying to get rich. I just want to live my live comfortable, the same way anybody else would."
The two sides have been negotiating for several weeks without reaching an agreement.
Market management said in a statement that they remain confident both sides can reach a deal and avoid a work stoppage, but that contingency plans are in place to ensure the market remains open in the event of a strike.
The market provides food to thousands of restaurants, bodegas, caterers and hotels throughout the New York metropolitan area.
They supply high end restaurants and street vendors. The market feeds about nine percent of the country.