District 751 Machinists strike back against hunger
SEATTLE — Machinists Union members are stepping up their efforts in support of the annual December KING-TV Home Team Harvest food drive to benefit Northwest Harvest.
The union’s MVPs – members of the Machinists Volunteer Program — announced last week that they will begin collecting non-perishable food items at local lodge meetings starting in October – a month earlier than normal.
MVPs will also accept donations of canned or dried foods at all District 751 union halls throughout the months of October and November. The halls are in Auburn, Everett, Renton, Seattle and Spokane.
The announcement came days after a U.S. Department of Agriculture report that said the number of Washington state families living in hunger nearly doubled between 2008 and 2010, to the point that nearly one in four Washington children now lives in a family that struggles to put food on the table.
The report estimates that roughly one out of every six Americans goes to bed hungry. That figure is expected to grow locally, after the Washington Legislature made deep cuts to free meal programs for low-income children during its past session. Congress is also weighing deep cuts to federal food stamps and other food programs, like the Women Infant Children program (or WIC) that provides extra food for low-income families.
The MVPs from Machinists Union District Lodge 751 regularly volunteer to serve meals to the homeless at rescue missions in Everett and Tacoma, and also help sort food at Northwest Harvest’s warehouse in Kent. As a result, they’re seeing first hand how the national recession and a lack of good-paying jobs is hurting Washington state families.
“The need is real,” said Robley Evans, the MVP Committee chairman. “As union members, we believe in taking care of our brothers and sisters. With the food drive, we’re extending our solidarity to include our neighbors in the community.”
This will be the 10th year that District 751 will team with KING-TV for the Home Team Harvest drive. Last year, the union and its members raised more than $3,100 in cash and collected more than a half-ton of food during a month-long campaign, and more than 200 volunteers turned out on the first Saturday in December to collect food donations and load them into semi-trailers.
“Truly, the Aerospace Machinists Union has become as much a part of Hometeam Harvest as anyone else,” said Betsy Roberson, the community relations manager for the TV station. “You’re the ones out there directing traffic and carrying those big bags of food from trunks to trucks.”
Originally formed in 1935 to represent hourly workers at the Boeing Co., Machinists District 751 now represents more than 28,000 working men and women at 44 employers across Washington, Oregon and California. In 2010, District 751 members gave nearly 6,200 hours of volunteer community service and raised more than $276,000 for Guide Dogs of America, the union’s charity of choice.
Follow our latest tweets at http://twitter.com/IAM751