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New Toll Free Number Offers Help to Working Families - - 877-AFL-CIO9

(Gulf Coast, September 7) - - Victims of Hurricane Katrina can learn about jobs, get instant access to computers, benefit from their unions' health and welfare services and find basic relief at three new workers' centers which are being established today in Houston, Texas; Mobile, Alabama and Pearl, Mississippi.

"Unions are meeting the enormous challenges posed by Katrina by preparing to play a unique and much-needed role in the relief effort," said AFL-CIO Sec-Treas. Richard Trumka. "Working people hit by this disaster need jobs, housing, and basic aid. Unions are mobilizing to meet those needs, and more."

The workers' centers are sponsored by the unions of the AFL-CIO and the state federations of labor in those states. They are open to all hurricane victims. Union families are encouraged to use this additional resource to liaison with their union, many of which are offering housing, grants and jobs.

Worker Center in Houston, Texas
Harris County Central Labor Council
2506 Sutherland Street
Houston, Texas 77023

Worker Center in Pearl, Mississippi (near Gulfport)
United Association of Pipe Fitters
1060 Commercial Park Drive
Pearl, Mississippi 39208

Worker Center in Mobile, Alabama
Seafarers Union
1640 Dolphin Island Parkway
Mobile, Alabama 36605 (phone tba).

In addition, hurricane victims can call a new toll free number - - 877-AFL-CIO9 - - to get assistance from the union movement, and to reach out to their union.

Over a thousand volunteers from union households are expected to bolster the Red Cross efforts in the coming weeks. Union members bring a host of talents to the relief effort including emergency response experience, construction knowledge, and education and counseling experience for children. Union members who want to volunteer should sign up at www.aflcio.org/hurricane.

Union members of the AFL-CIO have already raised over $200,000 through the Union Community Hurricane Relief Fund, to which union members and others can donate online at www.aflcio.org or by sending checks to: Union Community Fund Hurricane Relief Fund, P.O. Box 27306, Washington, DC 20038.

Unions are playing a unique role in the hurricane aftermath. Many unions are negotiating continuing pay for their members, are putting their health and welfare plans into action, and are helping members getting access to pension funds. The American Federation of Teachers is facilitating getting much-needed teachers to the Gulf Coast area.

Many unions are mobilizing volunteers, collecting supplies, setting up relief funds, and using their local presence and members in the Gulf Coast for relief efforts. Several Fire Fighters locals sent members for immediate rescue and recovery. Delegates to the Communications Workers of America (CWA) voted to send up to $4 million in hurricane relief to CWA families in the area. The Bricklayers and Ironworkers are planning to send mobile trailers and tractor trailers to the area and the Transport Workers Union Houston local is providing housing for families from the Astrodome, for example. AFSCME has more than 3,300 public service employee members in the Louisiana area who will soon be back on the job in all levels of government.

The Union Privilege Credit Card Disaster Relief Fund offers cardholders facing financial hardship as a result of the hurricane an opportunity to apply for grants of $500 to $2000. The money does not have to be repaid. Other special assistance for cardholders includes lower rates, fee waivers, and other help.