Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.
Early in the morning of Aug. 27, Category 4 Hurricane Laura roared through the border of Louisiana and Texas as one of the most powerful storms in history to hit the area. In the wake of significant damage to parts of Louisiana, Louis Reine (SMART), president of the Louisiana AFL-CIO, reported union members from across the Gulf Coast have stepped in to help. The state federation, along with the United Association of Union Plumbers and Pipefitters (UA) Local 198 and Teamsters locals 270 and 968, hosted a milk giveaway on Saturday for those in need. A relief staging location has been established in Lake Charles, Louisiana, at Local 198.
“Even though Baton Rouge and New Orleans came out fairly well, Lake Charles still had some significant damage, and millions are still without power. Our Electrical Workers (IBEW) hall down there was completely destroyed. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a hurricane [primarily] occupy one state at once. We’re going to be looking to gather bottled water, cleaning supplies, food, rakes, trash bags and more, as well as setting up a gift card relief fund,” Reine said. “The people of Louisiana have proven they are always up to a challenge and will face this challenge as we have faced others in the past. We will come together to rebuild our state. The labor movement in Louisiana, along with its neighbors and friends, will be there to lend a hand as our brothers and sisters face these challenges.”
AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler (IBEW) announced that the federation is donating $20,000 to support the Louisiana AFL-CIO’s relief efforts following the hurricane and the loss of life and property that it caused in the state. “We are at our best when the labor movement comes together to support our sisters and brothers during challenging times,” Shuler said. “Hurricane Laura caused widespread property damage and resulted in the tragic deaths of at least 16 people. The Louisiana AFL-CIO is doing incredible work to support communities around the state that have been hit the hardest by this devastating storm. The AFL-CIO is proud to play our part to get workers back on their feet.”
In Iowa, the Hawkeye Area Labor Council has been continuing to support members of the Cedar Rapids community—hit hard last month by a devastating wind storm—through its nonprofit entity and has been coordinating with the United Way and Teamsters Local 238 around a relief effort housed at the Local 238 hall. As efforts there are winding down, union members loaded up leftover supplies, including water and food, onto pallets to send to hurricane stricken parts of Louisiana and Texas. The Texas AFL-CIO is collecting funds to distribute to our sisters, brothers and friends in Louisiana. Click here to donate to the labor movement’s relief effort.