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Hunts Point strike: A victory for NYC Teamsters

By staff |
January 23, 2021
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Hunts Point strikers.
Hunts Point strikers. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

New York City - Today, January 23, over 1400 dock workers and truck drivers at Hunts Point Produce Market ended their strike after six days of militant picketing. The tentative agreement was approved by 97% of the membership, with the largest wage increase in their history.

Known as the largest produce market in the world, the Bronx-based Hunts Point provides over 60% of the produce for New York City. As essential workers, the Teamsters at Hunts Point worked throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, barely earning enough money to afford the city's cost of living. They never received hazard pay from their employer. After nearly 40 years of labor peace, the members of Local 202 had enough when the company refused to budge on the union's demand for a dollar raise.

The strike was defined by its militancy and displays of solidarity. The Hunts Point workers covered the distribution complex with mass picketing, blocking the entrances and physically preventing trucks from entering. They were met by an aggressive force of NYPD officers, including mounted units, and several workers were arrested after 300 police officers in riot gear charged the picket line. When asked by reporters, Local 202 President Daniel Kane said, "It is outrageous that after being called essential heroes for months, several of our members were arrested while peacefully protesting for a raise."

Despite the police attack, the militant picketing fundamentally harmed the profits of the employers and strengthened the union's position at the bargaining table. When a 21-car train arrived at the complex with tons of produce for distribution, striking workers immediately met with the locomotive engineer, a fellow Teamster, and informed him of their strike. Without hesitation, the train was turned around on the tracks and sent back to Ohio, costing the company dearly.

The Hunts Point strike became the focal point of class struggle for the city and the country, taking place as it did during the inauguration of Joe Biden and the country's debates over ‘where do we go’ in a post-COVID economy. The strike was visibly supported by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who chose to be at the picket line rather than attend the inauguration ceremony in Washington, DC.

The strike also received the crucial support of Teamsters Joint Council 10, led by candidate for IBT General President Sean O'Brien, who was on the picket line the night of the tentative agreement. "This strike wouldn't have been successful if it wasn't for the courage and conviction that you all showed taking on this white-collar crime syndicate known as the employers," O'Brien said to thunderous applause. "When you walk back in there on Monday, you make certain that your head is held high and that these employers understand they are just tenants in our house."

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