Sisters and Brothers,
On October 24th, Hurricane Sandy made landfall on Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Haiti killing at least 64 people and leaving tens of thousands homeless. By October 26th the storm moved to Cuba killing at least 11 people and causing more than $2 billion in damage. On October 29th Hurricane Sandy made landfall on the United States battering the US Coastline from Virginia to Massachusetts. Over the following days the storm moved inland across New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, and much of New England.
By the time the rain and the wind stopped more than 109 people across the US lost their lives, millions were without power and hundreds of thousands of homes were severely damaged or destroyed. Days after the storm, weather across the region turned cold and communities across the Northeastern United States were forced to face a bitter coldfront without electricity or consistent access to food, fuel, or other essential resources.
Thousands of our USW union sisters and brothers live and work in areas impacted by the hurricane. Many have lost their homes and their vehicles; others have been unable to work because their workplaces are not operating. In the short term our sisters and brothers need temporary shelter, food, water, medical supplies and other things only they can know. In the longer term they will need to repair or replace homes, appliances and personal items. Their needs will be enormous.
There are dozens of relief efforts that are doing amazing work in the area from the American Red Cross to Occupy Sandy. But we believe that it is vitally important that our local union work together to support our Steelworker sisters and brothers impacted by the storm.
We have reached out to USW Local 3657 members in the region to see if any of our local union sisters and brothers have immediate needs that we could work to address. While communications in the most directly impacted areas are still spotty it seems that our local union members have weathered the storm reasonably well. If you have been impacted by the storm or you know of a 3657 member who has been impacted by the storm and you need assistance from our local union please let us know.
The USW International has contributed $50,000 to a USW Disaster Relief Fund and the Steelworkers Humanity Fund in Canada has contributed $25,000 to the fund as well. We applaud the International Union for allocating those resources for our sisters and brothers in need, but we know that we will need much, much more to help our union sisters and brothers rebuild from the storm.
We want to ask you all to consider making a donation to support our union’s relief efforts.
On Thursday, November 15 we will be holding a bucket drop in headquarters to raise funds to donate to the USW disaster relief effort. We know that these are tough economic times for a lot of families but if you are able we encourage you to dig deep to provide as much support as you are able. If you aren’t in the building you can write a check to the Steelworkers Charitable and Educational Organization (be sure to designate it for hurricane relief) and mail it to:
USW Local 3657
Five Gateway Center
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
At this month’s local union meeting the Executive Board will be recommending a motion to match any donations that are collected by our local to the disaster relief effort. I ask you all to support that motion so we can maximize the impact of these contributions.
As we support our sisters and brothers rebuilding after yet another disastrous climate event we also cannot fail to recognize the alarming rate at which these disasters are occurring. From Katrina and Rita to recent tornado outbreaks across the Midwest, from the massive drought this past summer to Hurricane Sandy this fall it is impossible to ignore that we are experiencing more frequent and more devastating weather events than any time in recent history. It is undeniable that this is a direct impact of the warming of our planet and dramatic changes in our climate.
We need to support our sisters and brothers in need, we need to rebuild after this devastating storm, but I also want to challenge all of us to recognize that this storm is not an anomaly, it is result of dramatic changes in our climate. If we do not work to address this pattern of climate change and work to support green jobs and a sustainable economy we will find ourselves rebuilding over and over again after storm after storm.
Thank you all so much for your support for this important relief effort. Let’s all step up to support our sisters and brothers in need.
President, USW Local 3657