Unions gather aid for tornado victims

Unions, led by the fire fighters and the AFL-CIO, are gathering aid for their members and other victims of the tornadoes in Oklahoma and Kansas.

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.

Besides the 30 “who suffered total loss of their homes and personal belongings, dozens more have severe to moderate damage.  With the massive path of destruction, we expect these initial reports will be ratcheted up significantly.” The union seeks donations to its disaster relief fund for members, run by its foundation.

The AFL-CIO seeks donations for the tornado victims, union and non-union alike.

Federation Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker suggested donors send checks to the United Way of Central Oklahoma in Oklahoma City. “Oklahoma needs us right now,” after the “mile-wide tornado,” she said. “Money from the fund will be able to buy important supplies like blankets, food and water for survivors. It will keep rescue efforts moving forward at full capacity.”

The United Food and Commercial Workers and the National Association of Letter Carriers said members in Moore lost homes, goods and cars. UFCW said checks should go to Local 1000’s regional headquarters in Grapevine, Texas. NALC President Fredric Rolando said his union’s members should funnel contributions to Branch 458 through the union’s Postal Employees Relief Fund.

“The Moore station took an indirect hit,” the letter carriers said. “While it is too early to assess the damage and communication is difficult, it appears that all carriers’ personal vehicles in the Moore Post Office parking lot were destroyed. Several carriers suffered damage to, or total loss of, their homes but all letter carriers are accounted for and thus far there are no reports of injury or loss of life involving carriers.”

“When a storm like this hits, we must match its ferocity with our own generosity to help our brothers, sisters and co-workers rebuild after this tragedy,” Rolando said.

Photo: On May 20, this category EF5 tornado passed through Moore, Oklahoma, and other communities, leaving devastation and death in its path (CC).



Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.