(WASHINGTON) – Today, 79 Teamster members from across the country departed on a flight out of Newark, N.J. as part of a humanitarian mission organized by labor unions to send volunteers to Puerto Rico to assist in the ongoing hurricane relief efforts. In addition to the 79 Teamsters on the flight, 12 more are flying to Puerto Rico separately from Kentucky and 30 sanitation members from New York are already on the ground.
More than 200 volunteers from various labor unions traveled to the island on the flight donated by United Airlines and coordinated by the AFL-CIO. The volunteers will fill critical roles needed to advance the relief efforts in Puerto Rico. The Teamsters on the flight, who all have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) or a similar professional license, will primarily be utilized in supply delivery and sanitation support.
“The incredible outpouring of volunteerism that I have witnessed from our membership these past 72 hours is truly inspiring,” said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. “We had hundreds of members reach out to us expressing their desire to donate their time and skills to the relief effort despite the challenges they will face in Puerto Rico due to the state of its infrastructure.”
Puerto Rico has slowly made progress recovering from Hurricane Maria, but the scale and enormity of the job ahead of them is daunting, and any assistance they receive from the mainland is welcome.
“I’m proud that the Teamsters and the labor movement are leaders in bringing relief to Puerto Rico,” said Jessica Yance, Teamsters Local 210 member and crane operator at Sims Municipal Recycling traveling to Puerto Rico today. “Many Teamsters have family on the island who were hurt by the hurricane. We will be putting our skills to work getting Puerto Rico back on its feet.”
Teamsters Joint Council 16, which has jurisdiction over Teamsters Local Union 901 in San Juan, spearheaded the effort to identify and select volunteers with the proper skill sets needed in Puerto Rico.
“Our members that volunteered have demonstrated what we can be at our best as Americans,” said Teamsters International Vice President and Joint Council 16 President George Miranda. “Without thought of personal hardship, these union men and women are doing whatever they can to help Puerto Rico recover. I am proud of them and proud of the labor movement.”
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.