The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades has created the Finishing
Industries Disaster Relief Fund to raise money and assist its more than 1,400
members in the Gulf Coast area.
IUPAT's first order of business was to authorize a $1 million donation to the
fund and call on its more than 140,000 members to make donations as well. Among
member donations, District Council 21 in Philadelphia made a $100,000 donation.
IUPAT says that with the many pledges and donations, even from retired members,
the fund is quickly approaching the $2 million mark.
"Frankly, I'm not surprised that we're getting such a response by our
members," said James Williams, IUPAT general president. "What has happened
on the Gulf Coast is an unprecedented disaster and our people are facing not just
the loss of work and a livelihood, but their homes as well." He continued,
"What you're seeing is the union difference. This kind of support is what
it means to be in a union."
In addition to the IUPAT's efforts, the union's employees have also created
a sister relief fund. The Finishing Contractor's Association (FCA), which represents
many IUPAT employees, has pledged to raise $2 million from its members as well.
The FCA and IUPAT are also working together to create a national job bank for
IUPAT members, and also provide shelter for those who will have to travel to work
in these new jobs.