Port Councils and MTD affiliates continue to respond through their donations and efforts to help the victims of the earthquakes and aftershocks in southwestern Puerto Rico.
On February 10, members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) delivered 14,000 pounds of baked goods and snacks to the Seafarers Union hall in Philadelphia. The goods were loaded onto a container now bound for San Juan where delegates from the Puerto Rico Ports Council will offload and deliver to those in need.
Earlier in February, the first of more than 100 badly needed large tents began their journey to the commonwealth. Twenty American-made tents donated by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) reached the SIU Philadelphia hall and were loaded onto a union-crewed tug/barge headed for Puerto Rico. These tents will be used as classrooms shelter for the affected areas. The Teachers, whose president and staff have met with their members in the affected area, report that local schools are so badly damaged they cannot be used. The AFT ordered 50 tents which will be sent as they come out of the Wisconsin-based factory.
Two more tents, donated by the American Maritime Officers and Port Councils in Houston, New Orleans, Mobile and Fort Lauderdale, reached the port of Jacksonville and were included with relief items aboard a Jones Act Crowley Maritime vessel.
In addition, Port Councils in Boston, Norfolk, Toledo, San Francisco, Detroit and Hamilton (Ontario, Canada) have pledged donations for more tents.
The Puerto Rico Ports Council is working with the local labor federation as well as a coalition of Seafarers, Teachers, Longshoremen, Teamsters, CWA, AFSCME, Laborers and other trade unionists to get the materials out as quickly as possible. Methods include union members using their personal pickup trucks to deliver goods to outlying areas.
The MTD continues to work with the AFL-CIO and its United Way liaison to gather and ship much needed supplies. Seafarers halls in Philadelphia, Jacksonville, Fort Lauderdale and Houston have containers on site for relief supplies.