International Union of Painters and Allied Trades Has Sent Over $60,000 in Aid Since November
January 4, 2013 — The newly sworn in 113th Congress voted to grant aid to victims of Superstorm Sandy. The $9 billion package passed on Friday is believed to be the first installment of what is projected to be full the full $60 billion aid package that passed in the Senate in late December. The House was expected to pass the legislation immediately after the Senate, but Speaker John Boehner surprised many Hill leaders by cancelling the vote and pushing it to January and the new Congress. Mr. Boehner cited the fight over the ‘Fiscal Cliff’ as the reason that a vote on the Sandy aid bill should wait for the next Congress.
Not surprisingly, the move came under attack by Democrats and Republicans in Congress with constituents in the Northeast. New York Congressman Peter King called the failure to act on the aid package in the House a “cruel knife in the back.” New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was more direct in his criticism of Mr. Boehner. “Shame on you, shame on Congress,” Governor Christie said in a quickly called news conference. “Put aside politics and help our people now.”
Mr. Boehner finally relented after receiving such harsh condemnation from colleagues and constituents alike and held the vote today. It passed 354 to 67, with all of the no votes cast by Republicans. The remainder of the relief package is expected to be voted on in mid-January.
While Congress played politics with the federal aid for Sandy victims; unions and charities did their own part to raise millions of dollars in relief for Northeast residents in need. According to a survey of charities taken by the office of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, at least $400 million has been raised since November for relief.
The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) acted immediately in the first week of November. “I’m certain you’re fielding many, many calls from our members on what exactly the union can do in terms of aid in the aftermath of Sandy,” wrote IUPAT General President James Williams in a November 5th communication to business managers in the affected areas. “I wanted to send you this letter as a resource to circulate to your membership so that those in need could begin the process of rebuilding as soon as possible.”
The letter went on to detail how members may apply for a grant from the IUPAT Finishing Industries Disaster Relief Fund (FIDR). Since then, over $60,000 from the FIDR Fund has been distributed to our members who are beginning the process of rebuilding their lives.
“This is yet one more example of how unions and the labor movement can make a profound difference in the lives of our members and our communities,” says Williams. “It’s inspiring to see how we can come together to take care of our brothers and sisters even though we all remain frustrated with a Congress that seems to forget who they’re working for on Capitol Hill.”