IBEW Members Step Up in Times of Need
Local 3 members are giving back in high COVID-19 neighborhoods in NYC
New York remains the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, so thousands of businesses have been closed and hundreds of thousands are out of work going over the past two months. These are extremely challenging times for everyone, but most of all for those who were already struggling in “normal” times: the unemployed, the undocumented, and their dependents.
In addition to building temporary hospitals and working on the frontlines of the outbreak, members of Local 3, IBEW -- one of the largest unions in the tristate with a storied history of aiding the unemployed -- are giving back to their communities.
Volunteers from the Westchester Mechanics Association assisted the Afya Foundation, which sources critical medical supplies for underserved communities, at their warehouse in Yonkers where they sorted thousands of PPE that were then distributed to local hospitals.
Over the past week, the Lewis Howard Latimer Progressive Association has raised $5,000 from a GoFundMe campaign for food pantries that were organized in part by Local 3 Members at Shaw A.M.E. Zion Church in Corona, Queens and Collective Fare in Brownsville, Brooklyn.
Kenny Cohen, a member of the Latimer Progressive Association’s Board of Directors who helped bring boxes of food from Hands of Hope to the A.M.E. Church, said, “Our members are on the frontlines everyday during a crisis, making sure the power is on, but Local 3’s also out in our communities making sure they stay strong and united.”
Queens and Brooklyn account for over half of all cases in New York City, and Corona and Brownsville have some of the highest rates of positive cases. It’s no coincidence. Reports already show that African-American and Latino communities have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus and the effects of the shutdown, and Corona happens to have a large immigrant and Latino population while Brownsville has been home to a majority Black community for decades.
In addition to the food banks, Collective Fare, where Local 3 “A” journeywoman LaToya Meaders is the Director of Operations, is providing weekly and daily catered meals and distributes food donations every Tuesday and Thursday in Brownsville.
Local 3 “A” journeyman David Aiken, who helps coordinate the Shaw A.M.E. Zion Church’s food pantry every Wednesday, said, “Coronavirus has hurt so many people in many different ways, so we do whatever we can to help. Local 3, it’s what we do.”
The local itself has suffered losses, with at least 12 members succumbing to coronavirus and dozens more hospitalized. Many Local 3 electricians continue working through the shutdown on essential projects and services, but thousands of members are on temporary layoffs. Despite added stress on the local’s mutual benefit funds, they secured 39 weeks of health coverage for unemployed members.
The words of Harry Van Arsdale Jr., former Business Manager of Local 3 IBEW and founder of the New York City Central Labor Committee, continue to inspire: “Be kind. Everyone you meet is putting up a hard fight.”
Please donate if you are able to and share with brothers and sisters in the labor movement. If members of your union are hosting a fundraiser or volunteering in relief efforts, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.