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Workers at New York's largest produce market approve contract

By Ellen Wulfhorst

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Unionized workers at New York's largest produce market voted on Wednesday to approve a contract that will provide wage increases, the union said, beginning with a reported $20-a-week raise.

The deal averted a threatened strike at the Hunts Point Produce Market that could have disrupted fruit and vegetable supplies to area food markets, greengrocers, wholesalers and restaurants.

The 1,300 workers overwhelmingly approved the three-year contract with the market's employers, which are 150 businesses that bargain as a group, according to the union, Teamsters Local 202.

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The contract gives the produce handlers a raise of $20 a week the first year, $22 the second year and $24 the third year, according to The New York Times.

A market spokesman declined to confirm the details of the contract.

Daniel Kane, president of Teamsters Local 202, said in a statement, "It's our best wage and benefits package in two decades."

The union has said its workers earn $38,000 to $53,000 a year.

Hunts Point, which says it is the world's largest wholesale produce market, supplies about 60 percent of the produce in the New York City metropolitan area.

Produce arrives at the giant market in the South Bronx from around the world by truck, rail, ship and air.

A tentative deal, which averted the threatened strike, was reached on Saturday.

(Editing by Bill Trott)