Spreading the Love: Union joins peanut butter drives

PiercePeanutButterSEATTLE — Members of Machinists Union District Lodge 751 will compete this year to see which group can help ease hunger for the most people

The union will take part in two annual peanut butter drives sponsored by the central labor councils in Pierce and Snohomish counties.

The drives start this month, and will continue through May 8. Donations can be brought to any IAM 751 union hall in Puget Sound, or to monthly local lodge meetings at the Seattle Union Hall.

Peanut butter collected at the Auburn, Renton and Seattle union halls will go to the Pierce County Central Labor Council, which will pool all the peanut butter collected by unions in Pierce County and give it to the Emergency Food Network, which supplies 60 food banks in the greater Tacoma area.

Peanut butter collected at the Everett Union Hall will be contributed to the Snohomish County Labor Council’s second annual peanut butter drive, which benefits Volunteers of America’s Everett Food Bank.

The group of Machinists who collect the most peanut butter will get “bragging rights, and the knowledge they are helping feed hungry children in their community this summer,” said Terri Myette, who is one of the focals for the District 751 effort.

This will be the fifth consecutive year that District 751 and the Pierce County labor council have conducted a peanut butter drive for South Puget Sound. Over the years, IAM 751 members have donated about 4,900 pounds of peanut butter – close to 2.5 tons.

The success of the Pierce County drive lead the Snohomish County Labor Council to conduct its first-ever drive last year, which netted just over a ton of peanut butter for food banks in Snohomish County.

PeanutbutterLabelsLast year, District 751 volunteers donated 706 jars of peanut butter, weighing in at an estimated 1,150 pounds. It was given to the Pierce County Central Labor Council, which pooled it with donations form other unions to give to the Emergency Food Network in Pierce County.

In all, Pierce County unions collected more than 4 tons of peanut butter last year, which was snapped up by hungry families at food banks in less than two months, said Myette, who is an IAM 751 delegate to the Pierce County labor council.

“Sadly, one out of every six people in Pierce County relies on food banks for at least some part of their family’s meals each week,” she said. “Most of these people have jobs, but they aren’t paid enough to support themselves or their families.”

That includes thousands of aerospace workers in Washington state who work at non-union parts suppliers, Myette noted.

Peanut butter is an excellent source of protein with a good shelf life, Myette said. It’s also something that most children like, which makes it especially important for food banks in summer time, when children from low-income families no longer get free or reduced-price lunches at school.

Organizers encourage union members to buy union-made peanut butter brands like Jif or Adam’s, and to buy it whenever possible from unionized grocery stores, including Albertson’s, Fred Meyer, Haggen’s/Top Foods, PCC, QFC, Safeway or Thriftway.

However, all donations will be accepted, said Myette. “Hungry children don’t pay attention to labels.”

“Our union is committed to making life better for low-income working people in our communities,” said IAM 751 Business Rep Jason Redrup, who is the president of the Snohomish County Labor Council. “We do that by helping workers organize unions where they work, and by lobbying in Olympia for laws like the wage standard for companies who take our state’s $8.7 billion aerospace tax incentive.

“But while we’re working on these long-term goals, things like the peanut butter drive are something all of us can do to help meet the immediate needs of hungry families in all of our communities,” Redrup added.

Originally formed in 1935 to represent hourly workers at the Boeing Co., District Lodge 751 of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers now represents more than 33,000 working men and women at 51 employers across Washington and California.

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