Over 4,000 homes already helped; but many more filters are needed
Just as the unions here in St. Louis and Southern Illinois jump in to help individuals, charities and other groups when there is a need or a crisis, union plumbers are doing the same thing in Flint, MI, helping citizens cope with a water crisis where extremely dangerous levels of lead are in the drinking water.
Some 500 members of Flint Michigan Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 370 immediately volunteered when the crisis hit. As of March 1, they had already visited over 4,000 homes, donating over 9,000 hours of volunteer time at no cost to help homeowners install filters, faucets (old ones did not fit the filters), replace lead pipes, etc.
YOUR HELP IS NEEDED
But as the need is so overwhelming, the union has put out a call for financial help to purchase filters and water. Donations can be made to the UA Charitable Fund Trust, Three Park Place, Annapolis, MD 21401.
This need continues to grow despite the initial product donations from Plumbing Manufacturers International, which represents major companies like Moen, Brasscraft, Speakman, Delta and American Standard. Hodges Supply of Flint also kicked in items.
$20,000 IMMEDIATELY FOR WATER
When the crisis first hit, Local 370 put up $20,000 to buy bottled water from the Kroger Company. When Kroger realized what it was for, they matched the union’s contribution. In late January, some $40,000 worth of water – 25,104 cases -- was quickly distributed.
"UA Local 370 wanted to get involved and help in a meaningful way by getting clean, safe water to Flint residents as quickly as we could," said Local 370 Business Manager Harold Harrington. "We expected Kroger to be a willing source but are thankful for the grocer's offer to match our donation. It is a testimony to a good working relationship."
The efforts of Local 370 have been supplemented by union plumbers around the state coming into Flint. More than 300 union plumbers from Lansing, Detroit, Saginaw and other cities have been volunteering in Flint to help Local 370 try and meet the overwhelming need.
The Flint water contamination crisis started in April 2014 after the government mandated a change in the city’s water source from treated Detroit Water and Sewerage Department water (which was sourced from Lake Huron as well as the Detroit River) to the Flint River (to which officials had failed to apply corrosion). Since then its drinking water has had a series of problems that culminated with lead contamination, creating a serious public health danger.
The corrosive Flint River water caused lead from aging pipes to leach into the water supply, causing extremely elevated levels of the heavy metal. In Flint, between 6,000 and 12,000 children have been exposed to drinking water with high levels of lead and they may experience a range of serious health problems.