On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, essential workers striking for a $1 an hour raise were harassed and arrested by New York City police while picketing the truck entrance of the Hunts Point Market. The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) stands in solidarity with these fellow workers who are organized under the Teamsters Local 202.
According to a statement from the Teamsters, about 1,400 warehouse workers and drivers employed by Hunts Point Market (772 Edgewater Rd, Bronx, NY 10474) are on strike for the hazard pay increase following confirmation that the business owners have received a $15 million Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan from the government. Hunts Point Market is considered the largest wholesale produce market in the world, spanning a million square-feet of interior space.
“It is outrageous that after being called essential heroes for months, several of our members were arrested while peacefully protesting for a raise today,” said Local 202 President Daniel Kane, Jr. “These are the essential workers who went to work every day through the worst of the pandemic to feed New York.”
Not surprising is the fact that the company website even boasts about the expertise of its workers as a selling point for customers, stating: “Every year, more than 210 million packages of produce pass through the market, thanks to some of the most streamlined logistics in the business. Our stock is handled with care to ensure the highest degree of food safety.”
Liss Waters Hyde, IWW General Executive Board (GEB) Chair, said it is imperative that all workers unite against these infringements upon any worker’s right to organize for better pay and working conditions.
“Fellow workers everywhere are facing unparalleled challenges due to this pandemic. Being called essential or hero does nothing for the real, material needs of these workers who are putting themselves and their families at risk everyday they show up to keep food distribution flowing throughout the New York City region,” Hyde said. “And for this to happen on MLK day is adding insult to injury.”
The IWW is famous for refusing to support the unionization of police specifically because of how the police are regularly utilized to silence workers in favor of capital.
“The Teamsters have made it clear that regardless of the Hunts Point Market owners using riot cops to get trucks moving in and out of the warehouse, these workers will remain on strike until they receive the pay they deserve,” Hyde said. “The IWW finds it unconscionable that money given to a business for payroll then doesn’t flow down to the paychecks. As such, I encourage all members who are able to join the picket or provide other support to these workers to do so.”
For ongoing information about the strike, including video from the night of the arrests, please see https://twitter.com/TeamstersJC16. To read the full press release from the Teamsters Local 202 visit http://teamsters.nyc/2021/01/19/teamsters-condemn-arrests-peaceful-hunts-point-strikers/.