Volunteers for Puerto Rico Needed!

[ Please read the information (below) closely, it is a rigorous commitment and seats will be limited. ]


The AFL-CIO is coordinating relief efforts for Puerto Rico.  There is a flight leaving Newark New Jersey on Wednesday (October 4) with seats for 300 volunteers. The AFL-CIO has made a request for very specific skills (see attached) and has emphasized that volunteering in Puerto Rico will demand physical stamina.

You may have members [or family & friends of members] who have construction or nursing skills who would be interested in volunteering. Please contact Scott Birdsall (sbirdsall@uaw.net) or Sandra Engle (sengle@uaw.net) with the names of those interested. This is moving very quickly so we are providing you with all the information available as of now:

Volunteers needed:

Public Works; trash collection

·         Truck drivers (12)

·         Trash collectors (24)

Public Works, collection of debris

·         journeymen or apprentices truck drivers (40)

·         journeymen or apprentices heavy equipment operators (21)

·         journeymen or apprentices debris collectors (23)

Light Construction Brigade

·         journeymen electricians (7)

·         apprentices electricians (5)

·         journeymen plumbers (7)

·         apprentices plumbers (5)

·         journeymen welders (5)

·         apprentices welders (5)

·         journeymen carpenters (8)

·         journeymen masons (4)

·         journeymen painters (2)

·         journeymen or apprentices laborers (12)

Impact Brigade

·         journeymen drivers –heavy equipment (6)

·         journeymen electricians with tools (3)

·         journeymen welders (3)

·         journeymen laborers (15)

Medical Personnel

·         doctor – pediatrician and internist (9)

·         Municipal hospital: ER Adults Pediatricians and internists, ICU, Endocrinology, ER (6)

·         Municipal hospital: Pediatric ICU-pediatricians (3)

·         Municipal hospital: ICU adult ICU-adult (3)

·         Municipal hospital: ICU pediatric ICU-pediatricians (3)

·         Community Care doctor GP (15)

·         Nurses – RNs (12)

·         Municipal hospital nurses: ER Adults – RNs ER (9)

·         Pediatric station ER nurse – RNs pediatric (6)

·         Municipal hospital: ICU nurse – RNs ICU adult (6)

·         Municipal hospital: ICU nurse – RNs-ICU pediatric (6)

·         Community Care nurses – RNs-generalist (15)


Here are the logistics so far:

  • Flight from Newark, NJ leaving on Wednesday (October 4) in the morning (time not specified yet). Volunteer responsible for own travel to and from Newark. Return trip will be an open-ended voucher from United Airlines.
  • Unions required to vet the skill level of the volunteer before going on the flight.
  • There may be more volunteers than space on the flight so volunteering does not guarantee a seat on the flight.
  • Asking for commitment of at least one week, but up to two
  • If a group of UAW members are going, one will need to speak Spanish.
  • Housing will be at the San Juan Coliseum, dormitory-style on cots. Three meals a day provided, but dietary restrictions will not be honored. The facilities have bathrooms, showers and some laundry (though limited).
  • Volunteers should have no serious health issues.
  • Volunteers asked to bring the tools of their trade with them as checked luggage for the flight.  Though a chartered flight, it will follow the usual TSA rules on checking in luggage and passing through security.
  • Volunteers should bring:  clothing, towels, toiletries, medicine, extra eyeglasses. Do not expect that you will get any of these things on the island.
  • Cell phone service is very limited and almost no WI-FI.  Volunteers should be prepared to be unable to contact people stateside during the duration of their effort.
  • Work days will be long – upwards of 14 hours with no days off.
  • Working conditions are hot and humid.  Even volunteering indoors means no air conditioning or elevators.
  • Volunteers will also sign a waiver before boarding the flight.


The AFL-CIO does not anticipate another plane going, however, there are going to be additional opportunities to help Puerto Rico.  Right now, four collection points are being created along the seaboard for container shipping of goods to Puerto Rico. As soon as we have those details on how to get goods to those ships, we will share it with you.

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