18 WHEELS OF HOPE

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters has donated more than $200,000 in labor, equipment and diesel fuel to the American Red Cross to make sure flood victims get the supplies they need.

 

Hundreds of Teamster truck drivers from transportation companies including Yellow, UPS and Ridgeway have covered thousands of miles as volunteers since flood waters devastated the Midwest a week ago.

 

“People helping people is what we’re all about,” said Cheryl Johnson, director of the Human Rights Commission at Teamsters headquarters in Washington, D.C.

 

Cedar Rapids union member Gary Dunham agrees that working with the Red Cross is a natural fit.  

 

 “That’s what we do. We help people,” Dunham said.

 

People like Frank in Cedar Rapids are grateful for the thousands of Red Cross clean-up kits the Teamsters have delivered.

 

“In 98 years I never had any water in it,” he said of the family home that once belonged to his grandfather. “I’m tired, but I’m blessed.”

 

Johnson is proud that many Teamsters are now “disaster ready” after taking Red Cross disaster training. Especially important, they have put together a network of partners and members who know how to quickly access equipment and supplies when needed. In the case of the Midwest floods, the semi-trucks are hauling blankets, cots, food, water and anything else the Red Cross needs.

 

“They’ve been extremely generous and very flexible,” said Dennis Morgan, a Red Cross volunteer who has helped coordinate efforts in Iowa with the union. “We really appreciate everything the Teamsters are doing.”

 

Morgan said the union has committed several trucks and drivers to be ready at a moments notice when the Red Cross calls.

 

The Teamsters are more than truck drivers. Their 1.4 million members are found in variety of industries including airlines, food processers and dairies. Locally, the Teamsters are lending their muscle to the Red Cross as warehouse workers, loading and unloading as many as 60 truckloads of supplies a day. Johnson says after the flood waters recede, the Teamsters will still be playing a role in recovery. Members from the building materials and construction locals will likely be helping folks rebuild.

 

National disasters are not new to the Teamsters. They have operated their own Disaster Relief Fund since 1991 to help Teamster members who have suffered a loss. The partnership with the Red Cross dates from the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks when the union saw a need and stepped up to fill it.

 

Since that time the Teamsters and the Red Cross keep on truckin’ down the highways to help those along the way.  

 

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