Essential food workers strike over $1 in New York City, this week in the war on workers

Essential food workers strike over $1 in New York City, this week in the war on workers

Remember back in April when everyone suddenly realized that food chain workers are essential workers? A group of workers in the Bronx is trying to make good on that realization as they negotiate their next contract—and it’s led to a strike, as the bosses at the Hunts Point Produce Market refuse the workers’ call for a $1 an hour raise and added help with healthcare costs. Union representatives say that hundreds of workers have gotten COVID-19 and six have died, but New York City has gotten the food it needs—the 1,400 Teamsters workers at the market handle around 60% of the city’s produce.

“We’re working in a pandemic, now risking our life, every day, and you want to give us less than what you gave us the last time in a normal situation?” union trustee Charles Machadio told Gothamist. Pointing out that management rhetoric about the “continued uncertainty surrounding the pandemic” is in sharp contrast with the fact that the produce market has remained open throughout, Machadio thinks this is more than just a normal wage dispute: “I think they’re using the pandemic to try and get out of the contract.”  

The market is offering 32 cents in added pay and 60 additional cents toward healthcare coverage.

Rallying with the workers on Wednesday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said “Our entire city needs to stand by our essential workers. And it’s not enough for us to just say it and it’s not enough for, you know, we have to say thank you to all of our essential workers from our nurses to our food workers to the folks loading the trucks. But it’s not just enough to say thank you. We have to support them in their demands for a better life.”



— Chris Brooks (@chactivist) January 21, 2021

That walkout comes after the union produced an excellent, and damning, study of pay at The New Yorker.

● Chicago teachers are fighting an order to return to in-person teaching on Monday despite high levels of COVID-19 in the city and a refusal of telework accommodations to teachers who requested them for things like having a spouse with stage four cancer.

● For a map of a few (ha) of the things that need to be done, look back to September and the Economic Policy Institute’s list of 50 reasons the Trump administration was bad for workers. That’s a lot to reverse.


.@Instacart is firing nearly 2,000 grocery workers bravely putting their health at risk during #COVID to help feed families across the country. As the union for @Instacart workers, @UFCW is demanding a halt to these ruthless cuts as #COVID cases surge.

— UFCW (@UFCW) January 21, 2021

● Sarah Jaffe talked to Kim Kelly at Teen Vogue about her new book, Work Won’t Love You Back. Look for more on that book at Daily Kos … soonish. Once I finish reading it. But in the mean time, read this fascinating interview.

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