Over 60 school bus drivers, union members, allies and supporters packed a Haiti earthquake emergency meeting on Jan. 13 at the Boston School Bus Drivers union hall. The meeting was hosted by United Steelworkers Local 8751 (School Bus Drivers), Boston Fanmi Lavalas, the Organization of Former Members of Mahanaim Inc., AFAB-KAFANM (Association of Haitian Women of Boston), and Boston City Councilors Chuck Turner, Charles Yancey, Felix G. Arroyo and Ayanna Pressley. The meeting was chaired by Frantz Mendes, president of USW Local 8751.
WW photo: Steve Kirschbaum
Turner and Yancey both addressed the crowd and expressed solidarity with the people of Haiti and those in the room with family and relatives in Haiti. They offered the resources of their offices to facilitate assistance in any way possible. Pressley sent a statement of solidarity which was distributed. A spokeswoman representing Arroyo also spoke.
A letter was read from USW International President Leo Gerard expressing solidarity with the people of Haiti. The union has donated $20,000 toward relief efforts, and those at the meeting pledged to seek more. Jonathan Regis of the youth group Fight Imperialism, Stand Together discussed efforts to establish communications and coordination in the search for missing persons.
A coordinator for Fanmi Lavalas Boston described the devastating conditions on the ground in Haiti and indicated Fanmi Lavalas is positioned to see to it that aid received will be distributed to those most in need of it. USW 8751 will collect aid donations in the bus yards and funnel them through Fanmi Lavalas, as well as coordinate with other aid efforts in the city and with the city councilors. Information on where to send donations will be posted on the union Web site at bostonschoolbusunion.org.
Claude St. Germain of Boston Fanmi Lavalas and a USW 8751 chief steward, and Andre Francois of the Organization of Former Members of Mahanaim Inc. and also a USW 8751 chief steward, both spoke as did Grievance Committee Chair Steve Kirschbaum. It was announced by USW Vice President Steve Gillis that Pastors for Peace will be conducting an aid caravan to Haiti. It was also announced that the union will be coordinating with the Boston School Department for aid donation drives in all of the schools.
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