The Good Fight: Labor Flexes Versatility in Disaster Relief

This is part of a series highlighting the efforts of organized labor and featured in Labor 411’s print directories. Click here to order your copy and support Labor 411!

Unions are brotherhoods and sisterhoods, and family members are there for each other during the difficult times. It’s hardly a surprise, therefore, that organized labor would be among the first to offer assistance when natural disasters strike.

Organizations like the Teamsters, SEIU, CSEA, CTA CWA are among the many unions that operate disaster relief funds. Their assistance was especially impactful in 2018 when wildfires swept the Santa Barbara area at the beginning of the year and again in November when the Camp Fire and Woolsey Fire caused devastation throughout the state. During these difficult times, union members could easily find resources collected by the California Labor federation.

The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor took things a step further, joining with the American Red Cross and the emergency services divisions of the City and County of Los Angeles in an effort to be better prepared for when natural disaster strikes.

The partnership is designed to have at least 100 union members trained in emergency response, so that they can be deployed when disaster strikes.  Specialized skills like operating heavy equipment, clearing rubble or erecting temporary shelter can be useful.

“Building a resilient community requires each of us to get organized to help out in order to get each other back on our feet,” said Rusty Hicks, president of LACFL when the partnership was announced. “And no one is organized to spring into action like the Los Angeles labor movement.”

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