As Hunts Point Produce Workers Prepare to Strike, We Ponder the Positives

Where will these come from if Teamsters Local 202 goes on strike?

In case you missed it in yesterday’s Daily News and on today, the members of Teamsters Union Local 202 are threatening a possible walkout at Hunts Point Terminal Market on January 17. According to the reports the 1,200 workers who work at the wholesale food market in the South Bronx are protesting a proposed 14 cent per hour wage increase after three years at the same pay rate and reductions in other benefits.

In most cases–unless you shop at a farmer’s market or get your goods from a CSA, other independently run outfits or big supermarket chains, which source their own– the market gets in product from around the world to supply much of the fruits and vegetables most New Yorkers eat on a daily basis, whether you buy them by the pound in your local Korean market or munch them in your restaurant salad at lunch.

It’ll be interesting to see the changes if the strike happens and lasts for several shopping days. We imagine there’ll be lots of hardship and maybe even hunger in neighborhoods with few grocery options, but like all things that stop the city from its usual routine (Hurricane Irene, last year’s blizzard, the blackout) there might be a few positives, beyond the bonding together of cityfolk over the travesties of life.

Will some New Yorkers (and maybe even a few restaurant managers and greengrocer buyers) consider how they get their food each day? Maybe they’ll head to their local greenmarkets or independent local produce wholesalers and discover the highs and lows of true seasonal produce in January ? (No avocados or lemons, but plenty of crunchy crucifers, leafy greens made extra sweet by winter’s chill and plenty of incredible potatoes.) And maybe some of our area’s smaller farmers will earn an extra buck or two, which could be plenty helpful to those still recovering from Irene’s swampy conditions back in late summer.

And last but certainly not least, maybe those union workers who make it possible for us to eat fresh produce every day will get a living wage, to boot.

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