UTU International contributes to Haitian relief

As we sit horrified and with heavy hearts at the earthquake devastation in Haiti, our hearts especially go out to the hundreds of UTU members of Haitian descent, most of whom have family members in Haiti.

UTU International President Mike Futhey has authorized a $1,000 contribution be made to the American Red Cross in the name of UTU members of Haitian descent.

"This is a small humanitarian gesture, and I hope others within our union donate what they are able to relief efforts in Haiti," Futhey said.

Several UTU bus locals in the New York/Northern New Jersey metropolitan area, and elsewhere in the U.S., have a large number of members of Haitian descent.

"Many of these members are on the job not knowing whether their relatives in Haiti are injured or dead, and I cannot imagine how troubled they must be in this most trying period for them," Futhey said. "Our hearts go out to them and we pray that relief efforts underway, and still to be launched, will minimize further devastation and loss of life."

The Red Cross is urging that money, rather than goods, be donated as there is no logistical system in place to gather and transport goods from wide geographic areas.

Donations are being used by the Red Cross for a variety of relief efforts, including medical, food and housing supplies from central locations -- material that can be delivered to the stricken as quickly as those supplies can be moved through already clogged airfields, the heavily damaged port and along congested roads.

On Saturday, the Red Cross said it was sending a 50-bed field hospital, surgical teams and an emergency telecommunications unit to Haiti via truck from the Dominican Republic because the airport is in gridlock, and the port is too heavily damaged for cargo to be unloaded.

The FBI issued a warming to potential donors to apply a critical eye to those soliciting donations, advising that some solicitors during past tragedies and natural disasters have claimed to be with a charitable organization, but have been really stealing people's money.

The FBI issued the following guidelines:

  • Do not respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming e-mails, including clicking links contained within those messages.
  • Verify the legitimacy of nonprofit organizations by using various Internet-based resources that may assist in confirming the group's existence and its nonprofit status rather than following a purported link to the site.
  • Be cautious of e-mails that claim to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached files because the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
  • Make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf to ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes.
  • Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions as providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identify theft.