Detroit labor unites for food basket giveaway

DETROIT — Over 300 Christmas food baskets were distributed to laid off workers by members of the Metropolitan Detroit AFL-CIO Community Services committee on Dec. 17 in the parking lot of Teamsters Local 299.

Local 299 led the annual effort to collect food by donating $6,000. The Metro AFL-CIO contributed $2,500 and several affiliated local unions contributed as well.

Saundra Williams, secretary-treasurer of the Metro AFL-CIO, said, “The baskets are really wonderful. It’s really good. It’s not something that was left over. This is everything you need to cook a good Christmas dinner.”

Included in the basket were a turkey, boxes of macaroni and cheese, a bag of potatoes, cans of salmon, a bag of apples, cans of corn and green beans, a bag of apples, and a toy for workers who have children.

It’s all part of the community services goals of the Metropolitan Detroit AFL-CIO affiliated unions. Committee volunteers also build ramps for the disabled and hold “Paint the Town” events to fix up houses.

Williams said, “Help those who are in need. That’s what Community Services is all about. That’s what unions are all about.”

One retired autoworker who was among the 50 volunteers distributing the baskets noted approvingly that while the event was sponsored by the Metropolitan Detroit AFL-CIO, it was held in the Teamsters parking lot. The Teamsters are affiliated to the Change to Win labor federation.

Among the volunteers were union brothers and sisters from AFSCME, Machinists, UAW, Operating Engineers, Letter Carriers, Detroit Federation of Teachers and the Teamsters. The UAW is affiliated with the national AFL-CIO and the Michigan State AFL-CIO, but not the Metro. The brother from the UAW commented, “When it comes to workers in need, I guess ‘an injury to one is an injury to all’ is the prevailing view.”