Tag Archives: hurricane relief

hurricane relief

Hurricane Relief Extended to Hurricanes Florence and Michael

The AFM International Executive Board (IEB) has extended hurricane relief assistance to both Hurricanes Florence and Michael. If you were a member in good standing at the time of a loss as a result of a hurricane and continue to be a member in good standing, reside in a county FEMA has designated a major disaster area eligible for individual assistance, and incurred an uninsured loss as described in the Hurricane Relief Fund application, you may be eligible for assistance from the fund. Applications are available for download through the AFM website (AFM.org) under the Hurricane Relief “get help” link. After filling out an application, please follow the directions by submitting the application and all supporting documents to your local. If your local supports your application, they will forward the application and documents to the AFM for a determination. Any assistance will be made at the sole discretion of the AFM.

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Musicians Come Together to Aid Union Brothers and Sisters

Hurricane Irma left more than 13 million Floridians without power and property damage is in the billions. As soon as it was safe to go outside, members of Florida’s labor unions and unions from across the south pitched in to help other working Floridians by donating and delivering food, water, and supplies, while members of the state’s trade unions set to work rebuilding.

By early October, the AFM’s Hurricane Relief Fund had begun to release funds to help members affected by hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, who were referred by their locals. Numerous orchestras, bands, and freelance musicians have initiated their own fundraising efforts to help people in their recovery, including Local 802 (New York City) members who pitched in to collect funds and supplies.

In early October, the ICSOM Governing Board issued a call to action requesting donations for the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra, an ICSOM member since 2003. The ICSOM Governing Board was in touch with ICSOM representative José Martin, vice president of Local 555, on the day before the storm hit. Due to power outages and lack of cell coverage, it was two weeks before they were able to reach him again. “Those musicians of the Puerto Rico Symphony truly are heroes and they have the respect and support of their ICSOM family,” says ICSOM President Paul Austin.

Martin says, in part: “Some have lost their homes to floods or winds. We’re grateful for the spiritual, heart, and material support. The musicians, as they emerge and get in touch, are stating that the orchestra will be playing for the different communities and at shelters and fundraisers for all the people affected by the hurricane.”

The call to action asked ICSOM membership, and all AFM brothers and sisters, to respond generously to the Puerto Rican members in need. At this writing, $122,500 has been collected through the Call to Action.

Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico as Houston Symphony Orchestra (HSO) musicians, members of Local 65-699 (Houston, TX), were cleaning up from Hurricane Harvey. Even though flooding near its hall cancelled a number of HSO’s concerts, the orchestra’s musicians played on. They gathered in smaller chamber groups to perform in area shelters. Although there are ongoing repairs as a result of flooding, the symphony returned to Jones Hall October 21.

A support system and assistance fund were set up to help Houston orchestra members, staff, and chorus members who had lost homes and possessions, or needed assistance with cleanup.

The Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF) has also given funds to hurricane affected locals. These funds provide much needed earnings for musicians who are temporarily out of work, as well as help to provide free live music for the communities that are rebuilding.

Orchestra Steps Up to Heal the Island

Nearly one month after damage from Hurricane Maria left 10% to 15% of Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra members homeless, the orchestra began a series of free concerts to help heal the island’s people. The orchestra’s musicians are members of Local 555 (San Juan, PR).

“Our idea is to play for those who need more,” says Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra Music Director Maximiano Valdés in a WBUR radio interview. “There are many people left with nothing here.” The themes of the concerts, which include both classical and traditional Puerto Rican music, will be loss, survival, and rebuilding. 

Local 555 President Miguel Rivera, a trumpet player, also took part in the radio interview. He said the needs of the people go beyond food and water. “The people of Puerto Rico need food for the soul, I think. And music for me, is the best art because it goes right to your heart,” he says.

The first concert was performed October 13 in San Juan. The goal is to bring music to the hearts of many of those affected by the hurricane. The musicians plan to perform throughout November, not only in the capital city, but also in smaller interior cities.

“I think it is very important that we start performing as an orchestra and reaching out to people because we need to feel hope and I think music helps us feel hope,” says piccolo player Ana María Hernández. “Music is the universal language, and it can definitely heal people.”

Composer and playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda’s benefit single, “Almost Like Praying” continues to raise funds for relief. NBC aired a special about his fundraising efforts on October 24 for the Hispanic Federation’s UNIDOS hurricane relief fund.

Texas Workers Relief Fund

Unions Reach Out to Those in Need

Texas Workers Relief Fund

The AFL-CIO estimated that 360,355 Working America members and household members were affected in Texas, while another 1.2 million were affected in Florida. The infrastructure and communities of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have been crippled by the disaster.

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the Texas AFL-CIO set up the Texas Workers Relief Fund. The national AFL-CIO donated $100,000 and announced it was raising $5 million more. The AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust announced it would invest $500 million over the next five years to provide affordable housing in the areas affected by Harvey. This was all before hurricanes Irma and Maria made landfall.

Local 389, the Central Florida Music Association (Orlando, FL) reports that Disney, its largest employer, waived the Act of God clause so that musicians and other workers would be paid for the time they were unable to work due to closures.

In September alone, more than 700 union members offered their time to volunteer in relief efforts. When Harvey hit, volunteer nurses from National Nurses United and IBEW electrical workers rushed to Houston to pitch in. The Building Trust Fund, a bank collective trust, began work with the AFL-CIO on job-creating, real estate, and infrastructure investment.

The most difficult to reach Working Americans live in Puerto Rico. When it was reported that thousands of shipping containers full of food, water, and medicines were stranded at the Port of San Juan, more than 100 truck drivers, members of the Teamsters union, volunteered to travel to Puerto Rico to help.

The AFL-CIO, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, the Air Line Pilots Association, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, and United Airlines teamed up to fly more than 300 first responders and skilled volunteers to Puerto Rico to help with relief and rebuilding. Volunteers represented 20 unions from 17 states. The work was coordinated through the Puerto Rico Federation of Labor and the city of San Juan.

United Airlines volunteered a 777-300 to airlift the relief team. The Teamsters Disaster Relief recently completed a two-week mission on the island. Union pilots, flight attendants, members of SEIU, and more, all volunteered their time for the flight originating from Newark Liberty International Airport, transporting more than 35,000 pounds of emergency relief supplies—food, water, and equipment. Puerto Rican evacuees received complimentary seats on the return flight.

“Our movement is at its best when we work together during times of great need,” says AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “But we are even better when we find common ground and partner with business and industry on solutions to uplift our communities.”