NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Workers at the Hunts Point Market could walk off the job this weekend, and the walkout could affect your dining plans.
As CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, barricades had been mounted Thursday afternoon outside the
Hunts Point Produce Market in the Bronx.
Some 1,300 workers had been poised to walk off the job when their current contract expires at midnight Thursday night, but Teamsters Local 202 later postponed the planned start time for the strike to 4 p.m. this coming Sunday.
Union officials said the strike will go ahead if management does not give them the raise for which they are asking.
“We are ready, willing, and able to meet with the federal mediator and the businesses to try and settle this contract,” Teamsters Local 202 president Daniel Kane Jr. said in a news release.
Representatives from Hunts Point Produce Market said they supply 60 percent of the produce in the New York metro area. A walkout could cause problems for local supermarkets and restaurants that rely on the massive marketplace to get their fresh fruits and vegetables.
The workers want a daily raise of $5, or a weekly raise of $25, for each of the next three years. Their employer has offered a $16 weekly pay bump for the first year and $22 for each of the following two ears.
“Discussions are ongoing, and we are confident that all parties can come to a resolution on this matter to avoid a work stoppage,” market spokesman Robert Leonard said in a statement.
But one worker was not so optimistic.
“They want us to go on strike, but I don’t really know what to do, because people saying different things,” the worker said. “You might lose your job if you cross the line.”READ MORE: 'I Want A Proper Education': Some NYC Public School Students With Medical Exemptions From In-Person Instruction Feel They're Falling Behind
The worker, who asked not to be identified, has worked at Hunts Point for 22 years. He is three years from retirement and has a daughter heading to college, and he said he needs a raise.
But he also said he is afraid to go on strike.
“So I don’t know to cross or to go work. And they say if you cross, you’re going to lose your pension. You’re going to lose everything,” the worker said. “So it’s very confusing.”
Market management also said it wants current employees to start contributing to their health benefits, starting the last year of their union contract.
The worker said he hopes both sides can work out an agreement without a walkout.
“They should get together. Talk it out. Don’t go on strike,” he said. “A strike doesn’t solve anything. It’s just hurting everybody.”
If workers do walk off the job, market representatives said they have a contingency plan that will ensure the market stays open, and restaurants and groceries will be able to get the fresh produce they need.
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