Teamsters Denounce Lies About Strike in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico's Teamsters are getting reinforcements after weeks of working hard to deliver much needed supplies
Last week, UCOMM reported how Teamsters locals in the United States were organizing members to head down to Puerto Rico to aid in the delivery of needed supplies. While they were organizing this trip, false reports went viral claiming that Teamsters on the island were on strike. The reality was much different.
The fake news, which went viral on social networks, claimed that in the days after the Hurricane, Teamsters called a strike. This was further fueled by pictures from ports on the island overflowing with supplies. While noted fact-checking websites like Snopes quickly found the claim to be false, it continued to spread like wildfire. Fueled by Trump loving, anti-union sites like Conservative Treehouse and Gateway Pundit, these lies continued to circulate across the internet. They cut up a statement where Colonel Michael Valle said only 20% of truck drivers were showing up to work and then claimed it was because they were on strike in an effort to leverage more money out of the government. The reality is that Valle said only 20% were showing up because the rest couldn’t physically get there. In later interviews, Valle reiterated this saying that when he said that number, it was not because they were on strike, but rather that only 20% could actually get their trucks to the port. He went as far as to say that there should be no blame on the drivers.
In reality, Teamsters in Puerto Rico were working hard on the relief effort since day one. In a statement released by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, General President Jim Hoffa said, "The fact that they are attempting to capitalize on the suffering of millions of citizens in Puerto Rico that are in dire need of our help by pushing these false stories, just exposes their true nature." Many left their families with no power or running water to deliver the supplies their fellow countrymen needed.
Teamsters Local 901, which represents drivers on the Island, reiterated that the only goal of Local 901 is to help bring back Puerto Rico better and stronger. This mission was helped this week when 91 Teamsters flew in from Newark to spend the next two weeks delivering supplies. These 91 Teamsters were joined by another 200 skilled trades men and women who flew on an AFL-CIO chartered flight from Newark to San Juan to help rebuild the Island’s infrastructure and to provide much needed medical attention.
With more drivers and skilled workers clearing roads and restoring power, supplies will begin to move at a much faster pace. Thanks to the dedication of Local 901 and the 300 union members from the mainland, the next two weeks should see enormous progress made in Puerto Rico.