(SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico) – Teamsters from across the country are on the ground in Puerto Rico assisting with disaster relief, following a chartered flight of over 200 union volunteers that arrived in Puerto Rico yesterday.
“Teamster volunteers are wasting no time getting the job done in the critical roles of supply delivery, sanitation support, hooking up generators, and debris removal following the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria,” said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. “I’m inspired that we were able to galvanize so many members and supply donations on such short notice.”
Teamsters Joint Council 13 Human Rights Coordinator Roy Gillespie noted from on the ground in Puerto Rico that the decimation of the island’s infrastructure presented a unique set of challenges for the volunteers.
“All of the traffic lights are gone, it’s incredibly hot outside, there’s no functioning phone service, and the only people who have power in the town where we are right now are people who have generators,” Gillespie said. “This is ten times worse than what I expected, much worse than what people are seeing and hearing back home. I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Teamsters Joint Council 16, which has jurisdiction over Teamsters Local 901 in San Juan, spearheaded the effort to identify and deploy the volunteers in Puerto Rico.
“In spite of the immense and unprecedented challenges that these selfless volunteers are facing, they are on the ground right now doing everything they can to assist our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico,” said Teamsters International Vice President and Joint Council 16 President George Miranda. “We are our best in adversity. There are 3.5 million U.S. citizens that need our help right now. Whether you’re on the island or the main land, the Teamsters are a family, and we don’t leave family behind.”
“We are eternally grateful for the outpouring of support we have received from our fellow Tronquistas (Teamsters) from all over the main land,” said Alexis Rodriguez, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 901. “These volunteers didn’t think twice to come out here to help our membership at a time when we desperately need it. The level of kindness and empathy that they have demonstrated towards our communities and our local really goes to show what being a Tronquista is all about.”
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.