BRONX — Labor and management officials at the Hunts Point Market reached a preliminary agreement this weekend to avoid a strike.
The new deal would give workers a $20 per week raise in the first year, a $22 per week raise in the second year and a $24 per week raise in the third year, officials from both sides of the negotiation confirmed.
Laborers had originally been seeking a raise of $25 per week for the next three years, while management had countered with an offer of an additional $16 per week in the first year, followed by an additional $22 per week in the second and third years.
Management had also asked all union employees to start taking $20 a week out of their paychecks to help support their health care plans in the contract's third year, but under the new deal, only higher paid workers like supervisors and salespeople would have to make this contribution.
“Our members stood strong, and the market knew we were serious,” Teamsters Local 202 President Daniel Kane Jr. said in a statement. “We said we deserved a fair wage, we fought for it and we got it.”
The union initially planned to strike over the wage dispute on Jan. 16 at 12:01 a.m. but agreed to hold off on any action until Jan. 18 at 4 p.m. at the urging of a federal mediator.
A strike could have wreaked havoc on the city’s produce supply, and one is still possible if union members reject the new agreement at a Jan. 21 vote, but leadership is recommending a yes vote, according to a Teamsters spokesman.
Robert Leonard, a spokesman for the Hunts Point Produce Market, said he was pleased with the deal that the two sides had struck.
“We are happy that both sides were able to come together to reach this tentative agreement, which will avoid an unnecessary walkout,” he said. “At the end of the day, discussions resulted in a fair package which goes a long way toward addressing the issues raised by management and labor.”
Workers at the market make an average of roughly $44,000 per year, and Kane said in a statement that he was grateful for the support union members had received in their fight for higher wages.
"It's getting harder and harder to get by in this city," he said. "People really rallied around these workers demanding a wage that their families can live on."