Over 300 members of the AFSCME union have either lost their homes in this spring’s tornadoes or flooding, or suffered major property damage — and they’re getting financial help from their union. Danny Homan, president of AFSCME local 61, which covers the state of Iowa, first asked AFSCME’s international headquarters for help after the Parkersburg tornado hit some AFSCME member homes.
"And they sent us some money," Homan says. "I didn’t have (any) idea what was happening next." The Parkersburg tornado hit May 25th, then flooding struck hundreds of homes — including the dwellings of AFSCME members who work in state, city or county governments.
The money from the 330 AFSCME union comes from a fund set up to help union members, or their families, who were the victims of September 11th. A recent fundraising pitch went out to AFSCME members across the country, asking for help for storm-weary Iowans. The international union sent three people to Iowa to oversee disaster relief for union members.
"The three people they sent to Iowa to help us with this effort are the three people they sent to (Hurricane) Katrina," Homan says. Homan and the three AFSCME experts held meetings around the state to visit with union members who suffered storm losses.
"We gave them some initial help in the form of a gift card and then those that had substantial losses or total losses, we had them fill out some paperwork to verify the losses," Homan says, "and now we’re in the process of giving more financial aid."
That gift card was worth a $100. Homan delivered relief checks to a handful of AFSCME members in Buchanan County on Friday. Homan isn’t sure how much aid has been or will be distributed, but he says it’s a "significant" amount.
"Basically what we’re trying to show is when there is an AFSCME member in need, the union will be there to provide whatever assistance is needed, whether that is monetary assistance, or just helping filling out the paper, or just having somebody to talk to and sit and listen and try to help you work through the loss that you’ve had," Homan says.
AFSCME not only represents employees who work for state, county and city governments, it represents child care workers and some school employees — who aren’t teachers — who have voted to unionize their workplace.