Machinists Union members recently delivered a strong message of solidarity to Puerto Rico at the labor movement’s chief gathering of Latino activists.
IAM International President Bob Martinez, the first Latino president of a major international union, gave the keynote address to the Labor Council for Latin-American Advancement (LCLAA).
“I am here to tell you that the Machinists Union stands with LCLAA—shoulder to shoulder—today, tomorrow and forever as we face every challenge together,” said Martinez. “And I am here to tell you that we all stand with Puerto Rico.”
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Without sufficient assistance from the federal government, Puerto Rico has been slow to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria, which slammed into the U.S. territory in September 2017. Most of the island was without power and clean water for months. The Puerto Rican government recently raised Maria’s official death toll to nearly 3,000.
A large part of the efforts were carried out by Machinists Union Business Representative José “Lole” Rodríguez-Báez, who also serves as president of the Puerto Rico Federation of Labor. Rodríguez-Báez’s lifetime of service to working people was recognized by receiving LCLAA’s Montemayor Barraza Award.
“The workers of Puerto Rico, the people of Puerto Rico are not alone, they can count on the power of workers in the United States,” said Rodríguez-Báez.
IAM members also gave back by cleaning and painting a public school that is being transformed into a women’s shelter.
“I am very proud of our work here today,” said Jose Perez, a member of Puerto Rico Local 2725. “I am a proud member of LCLAA and I am equally proud to be an IAM member. When you see the efforts and the work being done today, it makes being a member very much worthwhile.”
“We’re here to help out,” said George Mejia, Recording Secretary for Chicago Local 701. “It’s just an amazing feeling to give back.”
Martinez and Western Territory General Vice President Gary Allen serve as LCLAA Vice Presidents. General Secretary-Treasurer Dora Cervantes and Political Director Rick de la Fuente serve on the Executive Board.
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