Bill Bumpus's picture
The Industrial Workers of the World recently marched on HWH Trading Corp to demand fair pay and better working conditions for the company’s 15 warehouse employees. The July 1st march was the first public action of an ambitious organizing drive that the NYC IWW is undertaking this summer. Dubbed “9 in 90,” the IWW is hoping to organize nine new shops in the next 90 days. The IWW has already made waves in the NYC foodstuffs industry by organizing five of the most exploitative warehouses in the city. The current organizing drive kicked off in mid-June, and organizers have already had talks with workers from four new shops. HWH, a produce distributor in Queens, is the first of the “9 in 90” whose workers have gone public with their IWW membership. At HWH, workers are not only expected to work extremely long hours, but routinely travel up and down the Eastern seaboard. Workers come into the warehouse Sunday night, spend the night loading up their trucks, and head out for long trips Monday morning. One employee works 116 hours per week and makes weekly trips between NYC and Maine, while another makes routine runs between NYC and Syracuse. The march was held to show that the workers have the support of fellow wobblies and to officially alert the boss of their membership in the union. About 30 people attended, along with some flags and makeshift drums. At the march, the boss was informed that the workers were demanding he respect minimum wage laws. He agreed to pay workers minimum wage, to pay time and a half for overtime, and to reduce the workers’ weekly hours. In addition to gaining better working conditions, the workers are looking to finally collect what they rightfully earned while working below minimum wage. Two days before the march took place, workers met with a lawyer from the attorney general’s office. As a result of the meeting, the attorney general is expected to launch an investigation into HWH’s minimum wage violations. The workers are hoping that the investigation will lead to a win in backwages. You can support this campaign by making donations here.