CWA members, locals, and leaders are rallying support for CWAers and their families in Puerto Rico, who are facing tremendous hardship now more than two weeks after Hurricane Maria hit the island.
On the ground in Puerto Rico, members of CWA Local 3010 in Puerto Rico are working nonstop to repair damaged communications systems.
CWA District 3 Vice President Richard Honeycutt said a shipment of water and other critical supplies left Miami for Puerto Rico, with American Airlines providing free transport. "The devastation and need is beyond comprehension," Honeycutt said. "More than 95 percent of the island is still without power and it’s difficult to get the trucks and supplies necessary to fix the power grid to the island."
"Residents are in desperate need of water, batteries, lights, and cash, because ATMs haven’t worked since before the storm hit," he said.
CWA locals are checking on members in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Local 3010, which represents AT&T Mobility members, reports that 55 members are still unaccounted for, while Local 33225 (UPAGRA) also reports that some members can’t be contacted. Members of Local 3140 who work for American Airlines in Puerto Rico have all been contacted, that local said.
Honeycutt and CWA President Chris Shelton urged CWAers and locals to contribute to the District 3 Disaster Relief Fund (click here). "We will do everything we can," Shelton said.
Every dollar of the fund goes directly to assist CWA members in need of shelter, dry clothing, and basic medical supplies. Donations are not tax-deductible.
AFA-CWA has teamed up with other airline unions, the AFL-CIO, and United Airlines to fly more than 300 volunteers from 17 states and supplies to Puerto Rico to help with relief efforts and rebuilding. Other CWA members were among the volunteers. AFA-CWA International President Sara Nelson, who helped make this relief effort happen, joined AFA-CWA Flight Attendants in staffing the flight.
Residents will likely remain without water or power for weeks or months. Communication remains difficult as CWA members work around the clock to restore mobile phone services. Local President Luis Benítez reports that Local 3010's offices are ruined; officers are securing a temporary site to serve as a member assistance center.
Local 3010 members Benedicto Quiñonez, Roberto Flores, Jose Limery, and Victor Martines are splicing fiber at a damaged cell tower.
Below: AFA-CWA International President Sara Nelson, second left, with the crew of the United flight headed to Puerto Rico with union volunteers and desperately needed supplies.