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.”