OPINION: How we can help Ukraine

As the world watches, be like Laborers Local 78 and take action now!


If you are like me, you have some major anxiety about what is happening in Ukraine. It may feel like sanctions aren’t enough, yet declaring war doesn’t seem like a wise option either. Putin is nuts, probably crazier than that orange-faced clown we had to deal with for the last four years. Personally, I hope the Russian people take Putin and install a real democratic government in Russia. But in the meantime, there is something we all can do immediately to help the Ukrainian people.

Our friends at Laborers Local 78 have many Russian and Ukrainian immigrant members. Local 78 represents asbestos, lead, and hazardous waste handlers in New York City, Long Island, and New Jersey. The Local’s 3,000 members are the hard-working employees for nearly 200 signatory environmental contractors, performing 75 percent of all asbestos removal in the area. This war has hit home for them, and one of their business agents told me last week that hundreds of his Ukrainian members are heading home to fight.

Last week, Local 78 union leadership put out this communication. Please read and share this story and circulate it around. Let’s see if we can at least get some donations in. Pray for peace, yes, but as unionists, it is in our DNA to take action.

From LABORERS Local 78:
For many of our friends, family, and loved ones living in Ukraine, the terror of war has upended their lives. Families are separated, homes and businesses are shuttered or destroyed, and hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have become refugees overnight.

Whatever your politics, the conflict in Ukraine has reminded us all of a sad truth: war is hell. And as the war continues to rage and intensify across Ukraine, the situation on the ground for millions of Ukrainian families will rapidly go from bad to worse.

That is why, on behalf of the membership of Local 78, the Executive Board and I have made a donation of $24,500 to Razom (Ukrainian for “together”), a New York City-based 501(c)(3) organization providing critical emergency supplies to everyday Ukrainians, including blood, bandages, PPE, first aid, and hospital-grade medical supplies.

As family men and women, we know the joy of being able to provide food, water, shelter, and safety for our families and the fear and panic when we cannot. It’s why we do the hard, dangerous work we do. Ukrainians from Kherson to Kyiv have been living with this fear and panic for days now as war claims their cities.

As Laborers, we know the right way and the wrong way to demolish a building, and we know all of the short- and long-term health risks we face when a demolition isn’t done correctly. Millions of Ukrainians now face those risks as they attempt to stay safe and stay alive while their communities are indiscriminately turned to rubble.

And, as trade unionists, we know we are strongest when we are together, when we are razom. The Ukrainian people are reminding the world of what we, and they, already know: that there is an unbreakable strength in solidarity. With our union’s donation, we have shown the Ukrainian people that we are with them.

We are razom.

You can make a donation to help Ukrainian at https://razomforukraine.org/donate/.

(Kris LaGrange is the head of UCOMM Communication, a Labor-focused communications firm specializing in internal and external communications for local unions and labor councils. Reprinted from the UCOMM Blog.)

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