Conservative news sites published false reports accusing members of the Teamsters Union in Puerto Rico of conducting a strike that impeded relief efforts during the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
The false accusation against union truck drivers infuriated Alexis Rodriguez, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 901 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
“Let me be clear,” said Rodriguez. “The Teamsters in Puerto Rico have been working on relief efforts from day one. Anyone who has said something different is lying. Our sole purpose is to help Puerto Rico recover and become better and stronger.”
Local 901 has been joined by other Teamster organizations working to bring aid to victims of the worst natural disaster in Puerto Rico’s history.
The Teamsters are also working with the AFL-CIO to mobilize union members on the US mainland to support relief efforts for people struggling to survive the hurricane’s devastation.
“There is currently a need for volunteer truck drivers who hold a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) to transport shipping containers from the port to distribution centers throughout the island,” said a Teamster message to members asking for volunteers. “Additionally, the Teamsters Freight, Airline, Passenger Transport, Package, Public Services, and Waste Divisions are contacting Teamster employers that operate in Puerto Rico and our local unions throughout the US and Canada to identify avenues of support and volunteer.”
According to George Miranda, president of Teamsters Joint Council 16 in New York City, the response of Teamster members has been “inspiring.”
“We have had hundreds of members contact us to volunteer their time to go down to Puerto Rico to help with the relief efforts,” said Miranda.
The Teamsters also set up a website for people who want to donate money to the relief effort: https://tdr.teamster.org/ .
The so-called news sites that reported the fake news claimed that the strike was the main cause for the delay in getting relief to people, not the late and inadequate response by the Trump administration.
Because of flooding, downed communications systems, the lack of fuel, and damage to roads and to people’s homes, some truck drivers had difficulty reporting for work.
Those who were able to get to work found that the lack of diesel fuel made it difficult for them to deliver aid to people.
But those Teamsters who were able, got involved in the relief effort as soon as the hurricane passed.
“The truth is that members of Local Section 901 of the Teamsters Union in San Juan have been working or volunteering since the next day the hurricane passed through the area, helping with disaster relief and the recuperation,” said Rodriguez.
Teamsters President-General Jim Hoffa attacked the conservative news sites that spread the misinformation.
“These viral stories over the internet are just lies perpetrated by anti-union entities to further their destructive agenda,” said Hoffa. “The fact that they are trying, by propagating these false stories, to take advantage of the suffering of millions of citizens in Puerto Rico who desperately need our help only exposes their true nature.”
In addition to the Teamsters, other unions have set up websites where union members can donate to help their union sisters and brothers in Puerto Rico.
Here’s a partial list:
UNITE HERE: https://app.moonclerk.com/pay/2tj1vmqdq437
National Nurses United has activated its Registered Nurse Response Network to mobilize nurses who want to go to Puerto Rico and help with relief efforts.
“Our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico are suffering under unimaginable conditions wrought upon them by Hurricane Maria,” said Hoffa.
He said that Teamsters and other unions will continue to work together to identify ways in which unions and union members can best assist those in need.