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LIUNA- Members pose at the airport moments before boarding a place and heading to San Juan to help with the recovery

AFL-CIO Seeking Volunteers for Puerto Rico Relief Effort

A charter flight will bring skilled tradesmen and supplies to hurricane ravaged Puerto Rico

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by Guest Post on
Oct 03, 2017

The AFL-CIO is coordinating relief efforts for Puerto Rico.  We hope that UAW Region 9A could supply a few volunteers, however, please read the information (see below) closely, it is a rigorous commitment. There is a flight leaving Newark New Jersey on Wednesday (October 4) with seats for 300 volunteers. The AFL-CIO has made a request for very specific skills including nurses, doctors, heavy equipment operators, electricians, plumbers, welders, carpenters, laborers, painters and masons. They have emphasized that volunteering in Puerto Rico will demand physical stamina.

This is moving very quickly so we are providing you with all the information available as of now:

Here are the logistics so far:
  • Flight from Newark, NJ leaving on Wednesday (October 4) in the morning (time not specified yet). Volunteer responsible for own travel to and from Newark. The return trip will be an open-ended voucher from United Airlines.
  • Unions required to vet the skill level of the volunteer before going on the flight.
  • There may be more volunteers than space on the flight so volunteering does not guarantee a seat on the flight.
  • Asking for commitment of at least one week, but up to two
  • If a group of UAW members are going, one will need to speak Spanish.
  • Housing will be at the San Juan Coliseum, dormitory-style on cots. Three meals a day provided, but dietary restrictions will not be honored. The facilities have bathrooms, showers and some laundry (though limited).
  • Volunteers should have no serious health issues.
  • Volunteers asked to bring the tools of their trade with them as checked luggage for the flight.  Though a chartered flight, it will follow the usual TSA rules on checking in luggage and passing through security.
  • Volunteers should bring: clothing, towels, toiletries, medicine, extra eyeglasses. Do not expect that you will get any of these things on the island.
  • Cell phone service is very limited and almost no WI-FI.  Volunteers should be prepared to be unable to contact people stateside during the duration of their effort.
  • Work days will be long - upwards of 14 hours with no days off. 
  • Working conditions are hot and humid.  Even volunteering indoors means no air conditioning or elevators.
  • Volunteers will also sign a waiver before boarding the flight.
The AFL-CIO does not anticipate another plane going, however, there are going to be additional opportunities to help Puerto Rico.  Right now, four collection points are being created along the seaboard for container shipping of goods to Puerto Rico. As soon as we have those details on how to get goods to those ships, we will share it with you.
Emily Barnett wrote this piece. She is the President ACT-UAW Local 7902.

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