Employees at FreshDirect’s Plant Operations warehouse voted overwhelmingly against unionization over the weekend. Given options of joining either the United Food & Commercial Workers, the Teamsters, or no union at all, 80 percent of the employees voted “no union.” The vote comes in the midst of an ongoing labor crisis at the warehouse; over one hundred undocumented workers were forced out earlier this month as FreshDirect announced an imminent inspection by Immigration and Customs Enforcement [I.C.E.].
Sandy Pope, president of the Teamsters local, accused FreshDirect of inviting “I.C.E. officials to scrutinize workers to weaken the union drive.” Before the I.C.E. scare, FreshDirect usually had more than 900 workers at their Long Island City warehouse; just 530 employees participated in the weekend voting. And last week city comptroller William C. Thompson Jr. sent a letter to the assistant secretary of Homeland Security who oversees the I.C.E., accusing the agency of interfering with the unionization drive. FreshDirect calls the accustation “outrageous”; a spokesman for the I.C.E. told the Times: “Our notice of inspection is purely coincidental to any local activities.”
Life’s full of funny coincidences, huh? But the undocumented workers’ loss can now be your gain; the Times notes that FreshDirect held a job fair last week, “offering $7.85 an hour for jobs packing groceries at night, in near-freezing temperatures.”