February 20, 2018

SERTs deploy to provide training for workers and communities in devastated areas

In the wake of the natural disasters leaving the southern United States, Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico in despair, USWTMC Specialized Emergency Response Trainers (SERTs) are deploying to devastated areas and delivering training. The cadre’s goal is to better equip the individuals and communities working to clean-up and rebuild in the aftermath of the disasters with the tools necessary to ensure their health and safety in the process. The SERTs began deployment late September 2017 to various regions of Texas.

Week 14: Feb. 12-18, 2018 in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Marybeth Potter of United Steelworkers Local Union 1-689 remained in the Virgin Islands this week to continue outreach on behalf of the USW Specialized Emergency Response Trainers. She was joined by Frank Condell, training director for the A. Philip Randolph Institute, Pittsburgh Chapter, and USWTMC worker-trainer.

The SERTs took Monday to visit the Bureau of Motor Vehicles in Saint Thomas with USW Local Union 9-8249 President Sheryl Parris and Health and Safety Representative Gary Simon. They toured the facility noticing significant mold hazards and spoke with some members regarding illness due to exposure. The team then went on to the lieutenant governor’s office where they connected with some members as well as management. In the end, they made plans to work together to solve significant health and safety issues. Potter reported that they were presented with contact information for guidance from the United Steelworkers International, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). They also offered NIEHS booklets for more information on how to protect oneself while helping others in the wake of a natural disaster.

On Tuesday the SERTs scheduled a tentative training focused on mold remediation for USW members at a union meeting to take place on Thursday. Potter and Condell worked to put together the materials.

Potter and Condell, along with Parris, visited SeaView nursing home on Wednesday where USW-represented members work. The SERTs reported significant damage from the hurricane along with little funding left to clean up and rebuild the damaged areas. The facility administrator reported to them that the residents are safe, the damaged areas are secured and the remaining structure is livable and intact, however, obvious work still needs to be completed.

Week 14: Feb. 12-18, 2018 in Puerto Rico


Mejia and Edington continued their outreach in Puerto Rico this week. On Monday the SERTs held resiliency training for workers at Metropolitan University (UMET). The following day the SERTs prepared all of the materials for an OSHA 10-hour construction course and followed up on obtaining personal protective equipment (PPE) for training. On Wednesday the SERTs facilitated day one the OSHA-10 course in Ponce, and concluded day two on Thursday. Finishing up the week, Mejia and Edington held a mold awareness class in Ponce and more resiliency training at UMET.

Posted In: AFLCIO, CWA, Environment, Health and Safety, Labor Institute, Mazzocchi, NDLON, USW

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