FreshDirect announces new jobs

Company enlists support of grassroots spokesmen

Online grocer FreshDirect has enlisted two more leaders of grassroots organizations in the Bronx to support its move to the Harlem River Rail Yard.

Steve Ritz of Green Bronx Machine and Chris Norwood of Health People: Community Preventive Health Institute have endorsed the company, joining environmentalist Majora Carter, who was hired by FreshDirect this summer.

The pair are helping the company spread the word about job openings at FreshDirect, according to a press release from Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.

The company announced on Oct. 16 that it would hire at least 200 new employees over the next three months, and is encouraging Bronx residents to apply.

In what appeared to be an explicit answer to critics who denounced the company for offering low wages to work in a refrigerated warehouse, the statement issued by the borough president says, “Hourly plant and transportation employees who have worked at the company at least six months earn on average $12.24 per hour. Pay varies depending on the job. For example, new freezer workers earn between $11.25 and $12.00 per hour.”

Opponents of FreshDirect’s move, organized under the banner of South Bronx Unite, have pointed to announcements from the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corp. that offered entry-level workers $8.75 an hour.

“These new jobs and aligned food access will change the lives of families and generations in the Bronx,” the statement quoted Ritz as saying. “New jobs are so important to the health of the South Bronx,” said Norwood, according to the press release.

Diaz, who has helped subsidize FreshDirect’s move from Long Island City to Port Morris and has been a fervent supporter of the larger subsidies from the state and city, said, “FreshDirect continues to be a good neighbor to the Bronx, long before they break ground here.” He called the announcement of new jobs “even more evidence of that.”