The Hunts Point Strike Is Just the Beginning

When 1,400 workers at Hunts Point Produce Market, a 113-acre distribution center in the Bronx, decided to go on strike earlier this month, their demands were simple: a $ 1 hourly increase and better health benefits. Their employer had offered them a 32 cents an hour increase, which the workers considered an insult. After all, they would worked non-stop through a pandemic that had killed six of them.

“Our bosses don’t feel like essential people – we are only important when they say we are important people,” said William Brown, who has been in the market for 21 years. “We show them that they need us.”

In fact, all of New York City needs these market workers, whose average basic wages were between $ 18 and $ 21 an hour. Their work feeds New Yorkers as they distribute around 60 percent of the city’s fruits and vegetables.

Your decision to go on strike was a risk. “Every advantage in this contract was at stake if we lost – if we couldn’t hold that line, if we couldn’t keep people busy,” said Daniel Kane, President of the Teamsters Local 202 Labor Union, during a speech at the picket line . “We didn’t know whether we would prevail.”

But they prevailed. Their six-day strike not only earned them concessions from their employer, but also became a focal point for work and economic justice. The Local 202 picket line attracted hundreds of supporters almost every day, raised thousands of dollars in donations, and became a minor sensation on social media. Their humble demands resonated with sympathizers across the country who were fed up with the mounting injustices of the Covid-19 era, and their success has fueled the militancy of the moment.

“It was about getting counted, getting up, being on the street,” said Kane. “This is the only way you can make real systemic changes. And that’s exactly what happened here.”

W.Hitney Witthaus, a public school teacher and Labor member of the New York Democratic Socialists of America, heard of the strike at the Hunts Point Produce Market on Monday, January 18, the day after it began. “So some of us went there to ask the workers how we could help,” she said. “They told us they needed supporters to show the boss that the strikers could stay outside.” So they got to work right away, sending texts to thousands of DSA members in the area, calling for support on social media and asking socialist elected officials to show their solidarity.

Later, in the early hours of Tuesday morning, when Local 202 strikers tried to block trucks in the market, police pounced on them and arrested six people. Videos evoked by the swarming police officers, some in riot gear and with batons constantly brutality Activists have had experiences with the NYPD since the Black Lives Matter resurgence in May. The images of the arrests, coupled with calls to action by the DSA, quickly spread the word of the producers’ cause. Supporters came from all over the region. Donations flowed in and then multiplied when the politicians liked it Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Bernie Sanders Declarations of solidarity submitted.


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