Bronx Residents Flock to Apply for Low-Wage Fresh Direct Jobs in Queens

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Fresh Direct is opening a new headquarters in the Bronx in 2015, but residents of the borough aren't waiting around for the new facility to get a foot in the door.  

Seventy-five Bronxites are applying to be picker/packers, delivery reps and mobile equipment operators at the company's current home in Queens in the hope that their jobs will move to the Bronx in three years.

"In that particular area where Fresh Direct is going into, they're experiencing 21 percent unemployment," said Marlene Cintron, whose team is helping prep the applicants for interviews. Cintron, president of the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, said the residents of Mott Haven — where the new facility will be — need the work.

The Bronx as a whole has an unemployment rate of 12.8 percent, much higher than the 9.6 percent citywide average and the highest of any county in the state, according to the New York State Department of Labor.

Most of the 43 jobs do not pay much more than minimum wage. For example, a picker/packer can expect to make between $8.25 and $8.75 an hour.

Despite the flood of applications, some members of the community say entry-level jobs with Fresh Direct don't pay nearly enough to pull people out of poverty.

"A lot of these jobs are low-paying," said Mychal Johnson, a member of Bronx Community Board 1 and the group South Bronx Unite, which recently sued Fresh Direct on an unrelated matter. "Employees working in 38 degree temperature rooms, having to start shifts from 12, 2, 4 and 6 a.m. in the morning. These aren't living wage jobs."

Fresh Direct has pledged to create 1,000 new positions over 10 years and retain 2,000 more when it moves to the Bronx, where three out of 10 of the new job slots are reserved for residents of the borough.

"From the outset, we said we were going to hire residents from the Bronx and this is the start of our effort to fulfill that commitment," Fresh Direct told WNYC in a statement.

Potential applicants who would like to be pre-screened for the positions by BOEDC have until the end of the day Monday to do so.


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Comments [13]

Shameke Dalton from South bronx

That a good move

Apr. 02 2013 03:41 PM
Kristin from Bronx

This is a classic divide and conquer move. They are dangling bad jobs that don't even exist yet in front of vulnerable people in an effort to pit the community against itself. It's not going to work. The south Bronx community wants the same waterfront access the rest of the city already enjoys. These EDC subsidy deals have failed time and again to create the promised jobs, as we bronxites know all too well. $127 million could be spent a lot more wisely than this and bring real improvements to our quality of life.

Jul. 17 2012 06:12 PM
Corrine from SBX

Your headline characterization is misleading and degrading. You left out the fact that BOEDC did not advertise the wage – just the job. How can BOEDC push jobs at this company? What about the FreshDirect immigration raid that happened to take place right before a union vote was scheduled, forcing more than 100 undocumented employees out (not the right company for the SBX!) What about FreshDirect’s record of discrimination claims (not the right company for the SBX!) What about the hundreds of thousands of dollars FreshDirect spent lobbying NYC Council to NOT have to pay its employees a living wage (not the right company for the SBX!) What about the income level of FreshDirect CEO, former investment banker Jason Ackerman, and his multimillion dollar loft in Soho. Does FreshDirect really need a $130,000,000 handout? Boycott FreshDirect!

Jul. 17 2012 06:01 PM
Lily from The Bronx

Taxpayers will be shelling out over $127 million in subsidies, costing taxpayers $127,000 per job but these jobs pay $18,000 per year. This means we fund seven years of funding per job. The Bronx Borough President Diaz has slated $1 million from The Bronx in subsidies, while closing schools, cutting after-school programs. Why should FreshDirect remain subsidized for their low-wage jobs? And why should they get to use our waterfront property when they have no need for waterfront access? I am guessing this kick to FreshDirect will bode well with Jason Ackerman's uncle, Peter Ackerman, the founder of American's Elect and help get him on the ballot! This way Bloomberg can give heavy, heavy subsidies and funding to FreshDirect without 'directly' giving to Peter Ackerman's project. Because a mayor worth $22 billion doesn't have enough. It is a shame he's one of the richest men on the planet and mayor of the poorest congressional district in the United States. Privilege has it's rewards. Once again South Bronx constituents have been bought out by big businesses, once again putting their personal desire for power and privilege in front of the people that voted for them. Once again they throw the word "jobs" rather than grow careers, promote jobs that provide real sustainable income that can support families and keep families from having to work AND collect food stamps and require public housing. Cintron is a sellout. Diaz is a sellout and Bloomberg is greedy.

Jul. 17 2012 05:45 PM

Oh yes; let's throw them a tidbit to shut 'em up.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if the CEO of FreshDirect and our elected officials who support this very bad deal were made to live (sic) on these wages? They know it's not a living wage and don't give a damn about those who would take these jobs!!

Jul. 17 2012 05:19 PM
Roman from Bronx

The City/State should not be subsidizing businesses that pay poverty wages and pollute the city. People who use Fresh Direct need to understand this is not a green business at all - but a trucking company that will bring thousands of truck trips a day to the south bronx - increasing the already staggering asthma rates for children and elders. There are so many other options, most local grocery stores deliver. And 75 people applying to a Facebook page is hardly "flocking". At my office we had over 300 applicants in the first day of the posting for a single job several weeks ago. It was an entry level position - but pays a living wage (without the assistance of corporate welfare).

Jul. 17 2012 04:58 PM
IA from South Bronx

This is not a deal for Bronx residents nor is it meant to be helpful. We want jobs... we need jobs. What we are asking for is a company and elected officials to understand that it takes more than a minimum wage job to raise a family, put food on the table, pay rent, and provide healthcare amongst other expenditures.

We are tired of being forgotten and told to "take what we get"... we want to be considered as more.

We want living wage jobs, we want parents to be able to have time to spend with their children instead of having to work 5 jobs just to get by.

It's time for something different.

Jul. 17 2012 04:53 PM

The Bronx residents have historically been treated like second class citizens. To throw low paying jobs in our face as if it is a treat is completely disrespectful. You cannot support a family on these salaries and cannot sustain the proposed working conditions. When the workers from FD tried to unionize they called ICS on them. Fresh Direct is not a company that supports bronxites no matter what the elected officials are trying to say.

Jul. 17 2012 04:47 PM

The idea that having these below-living-wage jobs is better than nothing is ludicrous. These jobs do nothing but perpetuate the circle of misery and despair in the neighborhood. Keep them poor and they will reproduce. And the fact that the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corp has rushed to help FreshDirect find staff for these jobs only talks as to their poverty pimping agenda. FreshDirect, the BOEDC, the Mayor, etc. All of them NEED poor communities like the South Bronx to make money of our backs. It is called poverty pimping. I keep you poor and then try to 'help' by throwing peanuts at you. In the meantime my help justifies my agency or organization getting grants and subsidies and gifts from the power makers. It is nauseating. We in the South Bronx do not need those crappy jobs. We have enough of those, believe me. That is precisely the reason why some -and not only in the South Bronx!- decide to sell drugs and do shady stuff in the first place. We are boycotting FreshDirect. We are not selling our waterfront for misery-perpetuating jobs. We need parks, clean air and GOOD paying jobs, not the misery and pollution that FreshDirect wants to bring to our shores. Shame on you Marlene Cintron!!! Shame of you! Bad Karma. Te va a caer un fufú por vendía.

Jul. 16 2012 04:57 PM
Jess Rivera from Upper East Side

There is a Boycott of Fresh Direct. Why give them $130 million of public resources to them and exempt them form Living Wage legislation to pollute the entire city and pay $8 and hour for 12 hour shifts?
We can create more and beter jobs with the subsidies proposed. Google the boycott of fresh direct to get educated.
The reporter failed to have any balance here, this reads like propaganda.

Jul. 15 2012 05:40 PM

And what do you think peapod pays?

Jul. 15 2012 03:40 PM

A low wage job is better than selling drugs or hanging out on a corner. Also, the workers can always fight to unionize instead of waiting for handouts from the City's social services programs.

Jul. 15 2012 01:04 PM
Marie LeFevre from Upper East Side

I use Fresh Direct because I am somewhat house bound and find their prices similar to Food Emporium and Gristedes. Now I always tip the delivery men
their prices have climbed over the years and they do charge a fuel surcharge
of late I have also used Peapod. Unfortunately they do not carry fresh cofee etc
I am appalled at the low wages FD is offering
may need to re hink my shopping

Jul. 15 2012 11:24 AM

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