September 15, 2005
Washington – The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) Katrina Relief Fund continues to grow with generous contributions from workers and organizations, and now approaches $350,000, thanks to a $50,000 contribution made in the past few days by UFCW Canada. UFCW Canada has also pledged to raise another $200,000 for the relief fund. Moreover, United Latinos of UFCW has also contributed $50,000.
Meanwhile, the UFCW began finding and helping more Katrina survivors in Alabama while continuing to help and to find affected members in Mississippi and Louisiana.
Until now, most requests for assistance were coming from UFCW workers employed in Louisiana who were affected by the hurricane, but UFCW leaders and workers have been canvassing Mississippi and Alabama looking for members in need. The call volume at UFCW’s Katrina assistance hot line has been increasing steadily as members talk to each other, and as UFCW continues placing announcements in shelters.
UFCW Region 5 International Vice President Alvin Vincent said that, “Many hurricane survivors are in need of food, and UFCW local unions have begun sending truckload full of groceries to specific areas that are facing the greatest need.”
In addition to providing groceries, UFCW, union leaders and members have been helping connect workers with their families. They have been helping workers find government, non-profit and community assistance. They are helping workers and their families find shelter – partly through UFCW’s Adopt-a-Family program – and sometimes helping them relocate and find new jobs. UFCW has placed special effort in finding members sheltered at the Houston Astrodome. UFCW International President Joe Hansen and Canada’s National Director Michael J. Fraser encouraged local unions to adopt UFCW families displaced by the storm.
UFCW has thousands of members in southern states that have been affected by the storm. UFCW recently identified and began assisting nursing home workers in Alabama. UFCW members experiencing the worse impact from the storm include those employed by Domino Sugar Co. in Chalmette, LA. Other affected UFCW members include those working at poultry processor Sanderson Farms, at an oil refinery, at barber shops, and at a Sara Lee plant in Mississippi. For additional Katrina-related information, please refer to UFCW’s website at www.ufcw.org.
UFCW Region 5 employee Arlene Carrow Crocker has been taking most of the hot line calls. She has never experienced anything more emotional or heartbreaking. “”For some of our Domino Sugar members, I believe that the realization of any major loss is just now setting in,” she said. “With an open heart, I try to find the right words, but I realize that only time will heal their wounds.”” In addition to the UFCW, other unions of the recently formed Change to Win Coalition have implemented Katrina-victim relief programs of their own and in collaboration with other unions.
Please feel free to publicize the UFCW Katrina Relief Fund hot line – (866) 820-6141. For any photographs illustrating UFCW efforts in the field, you may contact Federico Cura.