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Statement on Flooding from President David Van Deusen

David Van Deusen
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Vermont AFL-CIO Union Members,

Like during Hurricane Irene, all Vermonters are again facing the reality of destruction on a massive scale. Roads are gone, Cities & Towns flooded, and many of us remain cutoff from the outside.  Further, there are still serious dangers regarding the integrity of dams, and soon we will face the problem of basic supplies like food and fuel.  But we are Vermonters. We are Union Members.  And we have prevailed over such challenges before and came out stronger.  And with unity of purpose, with a collective will not just to survive alone, but as communities, we will again overcome.

Even now our brave and heroic Union DPW & AOT Crews, our Utility Workers, our Power Plant Workers, our First Responders, and our hospital staff are working around the clock making sure basic life sustaining services continue to function, saving the lives of those whose lives need saving, keeping the power on, and rebuilding our roads.

But as with Irene, it will not just be by the hands of those who chose a profession in public service that will make this recovery come to fruition.  It will also be through the willful and collective action of other Union Members, other Vermonters, who are not regularly tasked with road work or other essential services during a crisis. And right now, even as I write these words, Vermonters are gathering at their Town Halls and checking in on their neighbors to see how and where they can volunteer to help.  Being Union Members, knowing what solidarity means, I encourage you to do the same, to offer your labor and share your resources; to lean your shoulder into the work that needs to be done, and to help lessen the pain caused by these tribulations.     

And as we once again show the world that Vermonters are the most resilient, hardy, and community minded people on earth, know that we, the Vermont AFL-CIO are actively engaged in talks with the National AFL-CIO seeking to secure disaster relief assistance from the broader Labor Movement. As part of this request, we will be reaching out to Union Officers across Vermont in order to make a needs assessment of our members, Locals, and communities. 

Further, for the foreseeable future, the Vermont AFL-CIO shall re-focus the attention of our newly organized rank & file Workers Circles in Burlington, Montpelier, and Rutland into arms of mutual aid directly connected to the communities they are grounded in.  Together we shall prevail.

So, on this hard day of grief, tragedy, and resilience, let us set aside any differences we may have, let us go beyond the more narrow interests of the shop floor, and let us freely offer each other total solidarity and support.  And, in the hours, days, and weeks to come, let us, Vermont AFL-CIO (each and every Union Member), do our part in responding to this crisis and coming out the other side stronger as a result.