Bronx Pols Urge FreshDirect To Negotiate Contract Agreement

by David Cruz 

As FreshDirect gears up for a move to the Bronx, a faction of the borough’s legislators hopes the online grocer commit to a contract with its current roster of unionized workers. More telling, the letter shows broad support for FreshDirect’s move to the South Bronx.

The letter, signed by pols that included northwest Assembly Members Jeff Dinowitz and Victor Pichardo, state Senators Gustavo Rivera and Ruth Hassel-Thompson, and City Council Members Andy Cohen, Ritchie Torres and Andy King, was sent to FreshDirect CEO John Ackerman stating it was “pleased” the company opted to stay in New York after it mulled a move to New Jersey.

But it pressed FreshDirect to agree to a four-year contract with UFCW Local 2013. It’s unclear whether FreshDirect’s new crop of impending Bronx employees, roughly 1,000 in all, would be eligible to enter the union. Current wages for Local 2013-covered employees, who usually are the company’s truck drivers and delivery persons, range from $8 to $11.50.

“We encourage you to work with the Local 2013 leadership and members toward a contract renewal that provides a safe working environment, fair work conditions, and wages and benefits that guarantee working families can thrive in our City,” the letter said.

The group argued that since FreshDirect has been allocated $127 million in city and state subsidies, it’s only fair for FreshDirect to be a “good steward of those monies and ensure that it provides good jobs at fair wages to its workforce.” The letter added it was troubled by FreshDirect hiring consultants to persuade employees to disregard the union, labeling it as “incompatible with a mutually respectful relationship with employees and their representatives.”

Mischa Gaus, the union’s political director, echoed the political contingent’s position in agreeing to a reasonable contract. Given the subsidies, Gaus believes the company should “do right by its workforce.” He added the company has been “difficult” to negotiate with.

FreshDirect is currently in Queens, though now slated to arrive at a site in the Harlem River Yards in Port Morris by 2016. A concerted effort by South Bronx Unite attempted to halt the relocation through a lawsuit, arguing the 1993 Environmental Impact Study lawyers for FreshDirect used was outdated. FreshDirect had utilized the study when applying for funding through the city’s Industrial Development Agency.

The courts ultimately decided for FreshDirect to move forward, an outcome that proved favorable to Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., who led the charge in bringing FreshDirect to the borough.



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4 thoughts on “Bronx Pols Urge FreshDirect To Negotiate Contract Agreement

  1. Jen Riveras

    They are not gearing up for a move, they are hemoragghing $20 million a month, near bankrupt since they expanded too quickly. There is a living wage law these elected officials might want to read and work to enforce, if you receive subsidies, which they have NOT, then you HAVE to pay a LIVING WAGE. Why they can’t mention that is obscene. Anyway they would be horrible for the Bronx, stop the move.

  2. Francine

    This is odd, since there is the Fair Wages for NYers law that mandates wages for any company that receives subsidies, do the elected officials know of this or does the Union?They have to pay a Living Wage. Fresh Direct is bad for the Bronx anyway, you can live in the Bronx and work at Fresh Direct now. Better uses for that land when you cross the bridge it is such a waste there.

  3. Joyce E Hogi

    So it appears the pols are in the tank for FreshDirect. Only addressing a living wage is just the tip of the iceberg. What about the an environmental impact study to show just what the effects of additional truck traffic in the area will bring? I would think this would be number one on the list of considerations.

  4. edwin figueroa

    Im ashamed at those donkey’s none who even live in this high asthma area of the bronx and the union that supporting an 11.50 living wage what a slap on the face to those hardworking members 11.50 an hour in new york city the heads of those unions and those donkeys need to get their hands out those pockets and put themselves in the place of those generations of children who would have to INHALE those filthy fumes for the rest of their lives while their parents try to survive on those living wages! Mayor deblasio should tell those corporate welfare cheats to take a hike elsewhere the southbronx deserves fresh air and a well deserved developed waterfront! No to fresh direct deal!! no to pay for play!!

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