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AFL-CIO Community Services Director Will Fischer sends us this report from New Orleans.

In the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Southeast Louisiana Building and Construction Trades Council and the Greater New Orleans AFL-CIO have regularly pitched in to repair and rebuild the community.

Last week, union members joined with the St. Bernard Project’s Rebuilding Program to work on a house in New Orleans East at the home of a retired disabled Electrical Workers (IBEW) member from the embattled Avondale Shipyard. The work included re-wiring the electrical of the entire home and plumbing. Volunteers included members from IBEW Local 130, Plumbers and Pipe Fitters (UA) Local 60 and United Steelworkers (USW) Local 13-447.

After inspections are passed, volunteers will hang sheetrock and paint. Says Tiger Hammond, president of the Greater New Orleans Central Labor Council:

We’re always ready to extend a hand to someone in need. This last project was especially important, though. Any time we can help one of brothers or sisters out, we’ll always be there…that’s what the union is all about.

The St. Bernard Project rebuilds homes for senior citizens, people with disabilities and families with children who cannot afford to hire contractors. So the group regularly turns to the Building Trades for their expertise, says AFL-CIO Community Service Liaison Bryan Cassagne:

Southeast Louisiana Building and Construction Trades Council have the best trained, most skilled and highly qualified people in the area; so they are the logical choice to be involved in a project like this. Also, many times the people we help come from working families like ours, both union and non-union, and their biggest asset, their home, is uninhabitable and has been so for years. That should tug on anyone’s heart.

To date, volunteers from the St. Bernard Project have:

  • Completed 352 homes where families now live.
  • 47 current projects are under construction and families will be able to move into the homes  in the coming weeks.

Learn how you can get involved with the St. Bernard project here.

Is your local labor body involved with similar community service projects? We’d love to hear about it. Send an e-mail to

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