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Multitude of Unions Establish Relief Funds, Travel to Oklahoma to Help with Recovery

Severe Weather

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As the rebuilding of Oklahoma begins despite tornado season being in full swing, labor unions across the nation are playing a vital role in providing relief to those affected.   Solidarity is a natural part of the union experience and is translating into action in the Sooner State.

Among the unions setting up funds to help tornado victims is the Oklahoma City based International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) 1141.  The union has set up a relief fund through the Bank of Oklahoma to which you can contribute via their website. They have also been organizing volunteers to send into the community to assist in the recovery.  Their members are among those who need help:

As of 7:00 am 06/05/2013, we are aware of nine Local 1141 members with unlivable homes, and an additional eighteen with significant damage.  No injuries reported!

But the union help is more than local. OK Workers Monthly provides an example from Tennessee:

When Jim Pulley, a UAW member in Spring Hill, Tenn., saw the devastation caused by the tornadoes that hit Moore, Okla., he jumped into action and set up collection boxes at all of the General Motors Co. (GM) plant entrances in his hometown, resulting in three semi-trailer truckloads of supplies headed to help the tornado survivors.

Teamsters from across the nation are volunteering to get supplies while Oklahoma’s local Teamsters are providing pre-paid credit cards and other assistance.  

The local is giving $100 MasterCards to members who lost everything and need money just to put gas in the tank to get to work. The local is also helping them fill out FEMA forms to receive federal disaster relief and maintaining a volunteer list. Teamsters are among the many, many volunteers hauling debris, driving forklifts and loading and unloading supplies.

Two Teamsters scheduled to drive forklifts for seven hours in the Red Cross warehouse last weekend finished in five. “They sent everyone else home because the Teamsters were so quick everyone else was getting in the way.

Cobb plans to round up 15-20 Teamsters over the weekend to help clear away the remnants of one member whose home was demolished.

Tax-exempt contributions are also being channeled through the Teamsters Disaster Relief Fund and the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1000 disaster relief fund.

The International Association of Fire Fighters has also been active in organizing its members to assist in the rebuild:

International Association of Fire Fighters Communications Director Tim Burn said first responders, including those from his union, are busy helping their neighbors in digging out and reassembling their lives after the May 20 tornadoes. But some 30 IAFF members are victims, too, he said. “Some 1,700 IAFF members are located in the path of the massive tornadoes that devastated Moore, Okla., and a number of other Oklahoma cities, as well as communities in Kansas. The international has begun damage assessments, and the need for relief to IAFF members affected by the storm is critical,” he said.

For more information on how you can help in Oklahoma, visit the website of the Oklahoma State AFL-CIO or call them at 405-528-2409 for more information.


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