Celebrating Obama’s legacy

Obama Legacy Initiative

Obama Legacy Initiative Co-Founder Fred Greenwood, left, listens to Congressman Bill Foster, right, discuss President Barack Obama’s legacy during a kickoff campaign event in Naperville June 2. Photo courtesy of Bill Grommel

Jennifer Rice Managing Editor

By Jennifer Rice
Managing Editor
Thursday, June 16, 2016
Email Jennifer Rice at: jen@foxvalley
labornews.com

NAPERVILLE — For Democrats, it’s difficult traveling on the Ronald Reagan Memorial Tollway and flying into the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington, D.C.

As a frequent visitor to Washington, D.C., Congressman Bill Foster would like to see the airport be named after someone else — perhaps Barack Obama?

Well, it might be able to happen. A grassroots movement has brought together several like-minded individuals for the not-for-profit Obama Legacy Initiative (OLI), formed to name community landmarks after President Obama.

The group held a fundraiser June 2 in Naperville that was well attended by both dignitaries and the public.

Looking to OLI Co-Founder Fred Greenwood, Foster said if Greenwood could at least get the Washington, D.C. airport back to its original name, “[You would] be doing the country a service,” he said to laughter.

Foster would like Obama remembered and honored for bringing the country out from an economic disaster, which was teetering on the onset of a Depression.

Obama Legacy Initiative

From left, Columbia College Chicago history professor Lindsay Huge, Obama Legacy Initiative Co-Founder Sean Tenner, Congressman Bill Foster and Co-Founder Fred Greenwood brought guest together for a kick-off campaign fundraiser. Photo courtesy of Bill Grommel

“I’m very proud to see that President Obama is spending part of his time now, reminding people just how bad it was when he came into office,” Foster explained. “The economic climate between then and now is something our country should be grateful of.”

Greenwood, along with co-founder Sean Tenner, want to commemorate the significance of Obama’s election and presidency in the overall context of American history. They are looking for suggestions to name community landmarks, such as parks, roads and community centers, after Obama.

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Columbia College Chicago history professor Lindsay Huge would like to see satellite libraries sprinkled around the SouthSide of Chicago, where the Barack Obama Presidential Center will be located.

Huge joked that something is already named after Obama — Obamacare, penned by the Republicans as a criticism towards the president.

“Perhaps he will not need bridges, or airports named after him, since his opponents did him the favor of naming the Affordable Care Act after Obama,” Huge said.

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Unlike the Reagan Legacy Project, which was started by longtime Washington, D.C.-based arch-conservative lobbyist Grover Norquist of American for Tax Reform, OLI was proud to be launched by grassroots volunteers in Obama’s home state.

“We are the exact opposite of the people who put together the Reagan Legacy Project,” Tenner explained. “It’s just folks who think Obama’s presidency needs to be commemorated and serve as an example that anybody in America can grow up to be president.”

For more information to get involved, or to make suggestions, visit obamalegacyinitiative.org

Don’t be afraid of vacant office space

PowerFoward DuPage

Economic leaders want you to look at vacant office space as future work, not lost revenue. Bringing antiquated buildings up to code and retrofitting with state-of-the art amenities can help attract millennials to the ‘burbs. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

Jennifer Rice Managing Editor

By Jennifer Rice
Managing Editor
Thursday, June 16, 2016
Email Jennifer Rice at: jen@foxvalley
labornews.com

SCHAUMBURG — Instead of looking toward new construction, area electrical contractors were encouraged to look towards remodeling and retrofitting vacant buildings in a targeted campaign to attract and retain millennials in the suburbs.

As part of a State of the Region address offered by PowerFoward DuPage, electrical signatory contractors got an overview of how vacant and outdated office space is in DuPage and surrounding counties can be used to entice millennials, which will comprise the largest generation in the workforce.

This rapidly emerging workforce is looking for modern dining options, outdoor spaces and state-of-the-art building amenities. But as PowerFoward DuPage Executive Director Karyn Charvat pointed out, many office buildings are antiquated to attract a younger workforce.

PowerFoward DuPage

As president of the McHenry County Economic Development Corporation, Pam Cumpata is focused on helping McHenry County companies develop their bench strength and retain business. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

“Some buildings, quite frankly, need to be torn down and rebuilt to really meet the needs of this emerging workforce. For our industry, it gives our contractors the opportunity to bring buildings up to code and to redesign them so they are appealing and attractive to tenants,” Charvat explained.

Representatives from McHenry and Lake Counties discussed how their focus and partnerships brings together municipalities and economic development leaders so everyone is on the same page when it comes to business expansion and meeting those needs with electrical labor.

Lake County Partners (LCP) facilitates public/private collaboration to improve business climate in its region.

PowerFoward DuPage

Lake County Partners President and CEO Mike Stevens emphasized an asset to attract businesses is to offer some type of work/life balance for its new millennial workforce. With a “decent inventory” of office space available in Lake County, contractors need to keep on-going relationships with building owner and property manager open, so when the time arises, buildings can be remodeled and retro-fitted. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

LCP President and CEO Mike Stevens said Lake County has 11 Fortune 500 headquarters. With a “decent inventory” of existing office space, he’d like to attract additional regional or corporate headquarters.

“We can provide opportunities [to contractors] because the vacant space is nice, but it needs to have some improvements done,” Stevens said.

Target industries include biopharma; medical instruments, precision tooling; health care; professional and technology services and arts, culture and entertainment.

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The McHenry County Economic Development Corporation is the connection to resources to meet the needs of business. Its president, Pam Cumpata, said 25 percent of McHenry County’s economic wealth is derived from manufacturing. In the past 15 to 20 years, high school students have pursued college rather than a trade school, resulting in a gap of skilled workforce and talent.

“We’re also aging. McHenry County’s average age is 37.6. But in the manufacturing setting, the average age is about 55,” Cumpata explained.

Power Up Now President Kelly Waters added that understanding needs of specific manufactures is key. “There are challenges as well as opportunities to be had.”

The future of the IBEW

IBEW Local 461 graduation

IBEW Local 461 President and Instructor Mark Seppelfrick, center, stands with his graduates, which include, from left, Joseph St. Germain, Trent Wolf, Ryan Blake and Jason Harvey. Not pictured is Mark Bryant II. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

Jennifer Rice Managing Editor

By Jennifer Rice
Managing Editor
Thursday, June 9, 2016
Email Jennifer Rice at: jen@foxvalley
labornews.com

AURORA — Five years ago, a group of young men were accepted into the IBEW apprenticeship training during a time when the industry was struggling and unpredictable.

Unaware what the future had in store for them, they continued, knowing the training they received would launch them into a career — not just a job working paycheck-to-paycheck.

Five years later, with the economy on the upswing, these five apprentices attended their graduation ceremony June 3 at Aurora’s Two Brothers Roundhouse and transitioned to journeymen.

“You’ll be successful, and you’ll be able to supply everything you need for your families, if you . . . work hard, learn, listen, and try to improve yourself every day,” said IBEW Local 461 Business Manager Joel Pyle. “All of you are going to have great careers ahead of you. You all are top-notch guys.”

IBEW Local 461 graduation

IBEW Local 461 Business Manager Joel Pyle stressed the new graduates are the future of the IBEW. “Our future is as bright as you guys want to make it,” Pyle added. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

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Graduates include reclassification graduate Jason Harvey as journeyman wireman; and apprentice graduates Ryan Blake, Mark Bryant II, Joseph St. Germain and Trent Wolf as journeyman wireman-electricians.

Pyle encouraged the graduates to continue their education, come to union meetings and get involved in IBEW programs like RENEW, which focuses on issues important to younger workers.

Ronda Kliman, area representative with the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship said attending graduation ceremonies are the best part of her job.

“You’ve dedicated yourself to be our next skilled and trained workforce, and we thank you,” Kliman said.

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“We have a contract!”

SMART Local 73 strike

SMART Local 73 membership votes to approve a tentative agreement June 7 with SMACNA Greater Chicago. Membership voted down a previous contract May 31, prompting a strike. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

Jennifer Rice Managing Editor

By Jennifer Rice
Managing Editor
Thursday, June 9, 2016
Email Jennifer Rice at: jen@foxvalley
labornews.com

HILLSIDE — SMART Local 73 President Rocco Terranova was happy to announce, “We have a contract!”

The news came shortly after ballots were counted June 7 at the Union Hall in Hillside for the third contract proposal between the union and Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA) of Greater Chicago.

There where 1,166 votes cast, with five spoiled ballots. Final tally: 1,060 accepted the proposed contract; 101 rejected the proposed contract. The contract is effective from June 1, 2016 through May 31, 2019.

After the second and final contract was voted down May 31 by the union membership, the union issued a strike notice effective June 1, affecting about 2,500 of its roughly 4,500 members and about 200 of its signatory contractors. On the union’s Facebook page, a post indicated members working at jobs with Project Labor Agreements were allowed to work, per their agreements.

SMART Local 73 strike

SMART Local 73 members hold the strike line June 2 in Franklin Park for the second day. Members went on strike May 31 against SMACNA Greater Chicago after voting down its second and final offer May 31. A third agreement was voted on and approved June 7. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

On the second day of the strike, Terranova stressed to contractors and members calling his office that both sides were committed to meeting. “I told [SMACNA] I’m available 24/7. Our door is open,” he said.

Both sides soon got together — at 10 a.m. on the third day of the strike to re-open discussions. By late afternoon, both sides reached a tentative contract proposal and Terranova authorized all pickets to be taken down and instructed members to return to work.

SMART Local 73 strike

Union painters from Painters District Council 14 are proud to stand in solidarity with their fellow SMW Brothers and Sisters by honoring SMART Local 73’s picket. Photo courtesy of Painters District Council 14

The union was prepared to return to the strike line June 8 if the proposal was rejected.

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Terranova has been through a strike, in the 1980s, and knows a strike isn’t good for the industry. “No body ever wins with a strike — but our members spoke, and as union reps, we have to represent them the best we can,” he said.

Preliminary meetings started in January and Terranova said both sides were in constant contact for the last two months. He was pleased that other Sheet Metal locals were standing in solidarity with them.

During the strike, Terranova believed other building trades were honoring the strike. “To the best of our knowledge, unions are honoring the strike.”

Donations, money pledged for area vets

Disabled Veterans National Foundation

John Paruch, with the Disabled Veterans National Foundation, was in Aurora May 25 at the Pipe Fitters’ Training Center Local 597 to donate several pallets of clothing, shoes and hygiene items to area veteran organizations. Social media brought together Paruch and the Aurora Veterans Advisory Council. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

Jennifer Rice Managing Editor

By Jennifer Rice
Managing Editor
Thursday, June 2, 2016
Email Jennifer Rice at: jen@foxvalley
labornews.com

AURORA — Area veteran organizations got a surprise May 25 during Aurora’s first ever Vets Week when several pallets of blankets, shoes and personal hygiene items were donated for distribution to worthy veterans.

“We’re providing these pallets for veterans who are down on their luck and not as fortunate as we are,” John Paruch explained to a small crowd of guests at Pipe Fitters’ Training Center Local 597.

As part of the Disabled Veterans National Foundation (DVNF), Paruch knows our country can never do enough to help the great men and women who protected this country for safety and freedom.

“Whether it be shoes, the comfort kit, or basic hygiene items, we’re trying to make their lives a little bit more bearable when they’re down on their luck,” Paruch explained.

Aurora Veterans Advisory Council

Area veteran organizations sort through the pallets for distribution to their respective organization. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

As the director of corporate and foundation relations for DVNF, he understands how difficult and stressful it is putting together an event like Aurora’s Vet Week. The more than weeklong event was sponsored by the Aurora Veterans Advisory Council, chaired by Vietnam veteran Joe Toma.

With the help of social media, several phone calls and people paying it forward, the pallets and Paruch found their way to Aurora.

“As we lead up to Memorial Day, we all know how important it is that we don’t forget those who paid the ultimate price and sacrificed so much for us,” Paruch said.

United Association General President William Hite

After United Association General President William Hite, left, pledged $5,000 to the cause of helping area veterans, he gets a thank you from Aurora Veterans Advisory Council, chaired by Vietnam veteran Joe Toma. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

William Hite, who serves as general president of the United Association — Union of Plumbers, Fitters, Welders & Service Techs, helped the cause by donating $5,000, because, as he said: “It’s a great thing to do, and it’s the right thing to do.”

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“We partner with the military, we recruit heavily out of the military and they are our best people,” Hite added.

In 2008, Hite started the UA’s Veterans in Piping (VIP) program, offering high-quality skilled training and jobs in the pipe trades to active duty military personnel preparing to leave the service. Currently, the UA VIP program is on 10 military bases.

“This is training — not for a job, but a career with good benefits, health care, pension and good wages,” Hite stressed.

Because of DVNF’s generous donation, Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans co-founder and veteran Dirk Enger was humbled by the gesture. “To see those who have served,in foreign lands, to come back and sleep upon the very frozen grounds of freedom, is a disgrace,” Enger said.

“I just cannot express our gratitude to you, John, and to all that were involved, that these goods will be going to good use. Instead of thinking of the negative things that are going on in our country, let’s think of the good things that are going on in our country,” he added.

United for a Cure: In honor of Michael B. Goldberg and Joseph Borrelli

United for a Cure: In honor of Michael B. Goldberg and Joseph Borrelli. Hosted by Illinois AFL-CIO, Chicago Federation of Labor, and Chicago Cook County Building Trades Council

Starts at 6 p.m., July 21, at Operating Engineers Local 150, Countryside, IL

This charity event “United for a Cure” benefiting the Rolfe Pancreatic Cancer Foundation, in honor of Joseph Borrelli and Michael B. Goldberg. The event will include dinner, raffle prizes, entertainment and much more. Sponsorships are available. For more information call Georgia Gray at 312-464-1230.

 United for a Cure: In honor of Michael B. Goldberg and Joseph Borrelli


New 1 RPCF 2016

New 1 RPCF 2016

30,000 hours worked with no lost time

Continental Electrical Construction Company

Continental Electrical Construction Company and members of IBEW Local 461 completed two projects at the Yorkville Wrigley plant. It took more than 14 months and 30,000 hours to complete — all without a lost time incident. Photo courtesy of IBEW Local 461

Jennifer Rice Managing Editor

By Jennifer Rice
Managing Editor
Thursday, May 26, 2016
Email Jennifer Rice at: jen@foxvalley
labornews.com

YORKVILLE — When Continental Electrical Construction Company (CECCo) Director of Field Operations found out members of IBEW’s Local 461 would be working with them on two project at the Wrigley Manufacturing Company in Yorkville, Brian Swiatek was a little apprehensive — 85 percent of his workforce had never worked with CECCo prior to starting the job.

“We didn’t have a presence with Local 461,” Swiatek said. “Because of this, you wonder, ‘how are things going to work?’”

Fourteen months later, now that the $8 million projects are completed, Swiatek couldn’t be happier.

On the electrical end, Local 461’s workforce reached 30,000 hours without a lost time incident. The projects also were completed on time and on budget.

“This project could not have been completed without the 30 plus Local 461 Journeymen and Apprentices who dedicated their skill and excellence to ensure the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers stood tall at the end,” Swiatek wrote in a letter of appreciation to Local 461’s President Joel Pyle.

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For the electrical company, having members work 30,000 hours without an incident was amazing.

“Not having a first aid incident or have to go the hospital or clinic is a mess of an undertaking. It all went off without a hitch and that’s what we’re most proud of,” he explained.

With any project taking more than 5,000 hours, CECCo dedicates a site specific safety supervisor. That individual interacts with a safety supervisor and creates on-site safety audits and conducts bi-weekly safety meetings.

“Sometimes, it’s a hard sell for workers to understand safety comes first, but from the inception of the project, Local 461 members came to the job ready to work safely,” Swiatek said.

“Before they even pick up a tool, they figured out the best and safest way to do their work for the day.”

What are you doing for others?

Fox Valley United Way’s Annual Recognition Breakfast

Several awards were given out during the Fox Valley United Way’s Annual Recognition Breakfast May 19. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

Jennifer Rice Managing Editor

By Jennifer Rice
Managing Editor
Thursday, May 26, 2016
Email Jennifer Rice at: jen@foxvalley
labornews.com

AURORA — For his years of support of Fox Valley United Way (FVUW) and the social service agencies it funds, and for demonstrating the spirit of caring, Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner was the first recipient of the Thomas J. Weisner Humanitarian Award given by the FVUW.

Weisner accepted the award during the FVUW’s Annual Recognition Breakfast where it celebrated a community that cares May 19.

Fox Valley United Way Executive Director Mike Meyer said Wisner’s tenure as mayor of Aurora has exemplified how the hearts of a humanitarian can change an entire community.

“His dedication to economic revitalization, sustainable development, and safer and stronger neighborhoods has raised Aurora to a new level of exceptionalism that benefits all of us. Yet it is his consistent and engage support of Fox Valley United Way that proves that he truly live united,” Meyer said.

Fox Valley United Way’s Annual Recognition Breakfast

The Fox Valley Building and Construction Trades Council’s award for its monetary, gift card donations for Holiday Assistance Program. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

2016 Fox Valley United Way Annual Breakfast.

Several individuals, as well as organizations, were acknowledged for their work during the Fox Valley United Way Annual Breakfast award winners during the 2016 event. Respective winning categories are also shown.

Weisner chose not to speak to the more than 400 attendants at the breakfast, instead, humbly said, “thank you.”

This was the debut of the award. Meyer said future recipients will show the same caring spirit as Weisner.

Other organizations and individuals honored, included the Gustafson Family Foundation with the LIVE UNITED award and Maria Deleon-Mazo as the Outstanding Community Volunteer Award.

Though it had been previously announced, FVUW’s Board of Directors Chair Julie Proscia reminded guests the United Way of Central Kane County is merging with the FVUW, effective Aug. 1.

“I cannot tell you how honored we were they trusted us to be able to service their area, and their agencies,” Proscia explained. “They felt, and we believe, that we’re a partner that can do so because we have an organizational capacity, and the leadership to both manage the fundraising, innovative programs and volunteer recruitment in their areas.”

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As it does every year, the FVUW gave awards of appreciation to organizations that helped make its annual events a success, like its Campaign Kick-Off with its cardboard boat race; Holiday Assistance Program and Souper Bowl of Caring.

The Fox Valley Building and Construction Trades Council was honored for its monetary and gift card donations for the Holiday Assistance Program.

“Every family that we help gets a gift card so they can buy groceries. Most families we help are on food assistance, and this gives them the opportunity to actually go out and purchase groceries at the store for a holiday meal,” Meyer explained.

There were 81 businesses, organizations, individuals and families who helped sponsor 127 families in need, and helped 316 children have a wonderful holiday.

Rauner: Stop hurting Illinois

Rally in Springfield

Rally in Springfield brings 10,000 union members and their supporters out to demand Gov. Bruce Rauner and his allies to stop hurting Illinois and drop their extreme, harmful demands and make Illinois work for all. Photo courtesy of AFSCME Council 31

Fox Valley Labor News
staff reports
Thursday, May 26, 2016

SPRINGFIELD — With the state approaching a full year without a budget, working families in Illinois are feeling the effects of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s refusal to abandon his toxic agenda, so organized labor and its supports showed up in Springfield May 18 to let Rauner know how they feel.

Illinois Working Together Co-Chair and Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan said Rauner doesn’t care about the hundreds of thousands of people who are struggling as never before because of his destructive policies.

Rally in Springfield

Members of IBEW Local 134 in Chicago march in Springfield towards Illinois’ capitol. Organized labor was protesting Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed changes to collective bargaining. Illinois State President John Cullerton and House Speaker Michael Madigan left their chambers to join the rally. Photo courtesy of IBEW Local 134 member

“All of this devastation is due to one man — a mega-millionaire who thinks his huge wealth means he should be able to impose his will on an entire state. Governor Rauner is determined to ram through his extreme and harmful agenda — and he doesn’t care about how much damage he inflicts in the process,” Carrigan said to applause.

Statewide, public colleges and universities have announced layoffs, social service agencies are shutting down, construction projects have stalled, and businesses are owed billions for goods and services provided to the state.

Rauner is pushing policies that will lower the quality of life for all Illinoisans, especially those who depend on a weekly paycheck.

Rally in Springfield

Pro-Ruaner rally May 17 vs Rauner is Hurting Illinois Rally May 18

Illinois Working Together Co-Chair and Chicago Federation of Labor President Jorge Ramirez said he Turnaround Agenda would diminish wages, destroy worker protections, and completely wipe out what is left of the middle class in Illinois.

“Gov. Rauner, we are calling on you to end the devastating crisis you created. It’s time to create an Illinois that works for all — for our students, seniors, state employees, tradesmen and women, and all workers struggling to provide for their families,” Ramirez said.

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Speakers at the rally included everyday Illinoisans who are suffering the consequences of the Rauner agenda, including students, seniors, tradesmen and women, and state employees.

“Every day, I see firsthand the harm the governor is causing,” said JoAnn Washington-Murry, a Child Welfare Specialist from Chicago. “Because the Governor is holding the budget hostage, treatment programs have had to scale back or shut down. That hurts children and families, because if parents can’t get help to turn their lives around, my only choice is to keep that child in foster care.”

Construction worker Amy Fasig from Christopher, Illinois was severely injured on the job in 2012 said they weren’t strong workers’ compensation law in Illinois, her family and I would have lost everything.

“We would have been responsible for millions in medical bills. If we let wealthy politicians and huge corporations lead Illinois in a race to the bottom, workers and their families will lose even more,” she explained.

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University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign student Stephanie Skora said because of Rauner, and his friends in the General Assembly, students have seen cuts at schools all over.

“Chicago State, Eastern, Western, Urbana-Champaign, and others are cutting staff and programs – jeopardizing my future and the future of my peers,” Skora said.

The rally was organized by Illinois Working Together, a coalition defending all working families from anti-worker attacks. Every union in the state participated in the rally.

Restocking local food pantry shelves

National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Stamp Out Hunger

National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Branch 219 member Chevonne Martin unloads donated food from her vehicle at the downtown Aurora Post Office. The food was collected along her route as part of Stamp Out Hunger’s annual event. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

Jennifer Rice Managing Editor

By Jennifer Rice
Managing Editor
Thursday, May 19, 2016
Email Jennifer Rice at: jen@foxvalley
labornews.com

You can view the video of Aurora’s NALC Branch 219 Stamp Out Hunger event by going to the Fox Valley Labor News YouTube channel

AURORA — The unusual cold temperatures Saturday, May 14 didn’t deter the public, or letter carriers, from having a very successful Stamp Out Hunger food drive.

Now in its 24th year, the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) food drive is the largest one-day food drive in the nation. Locally, food collected by NALC Branch 219 members help to fill food pantries that serve clients in Aurora, Yorkville, Montgomery and Plano.

As in years past, several area schools held their own food drives for the Stamp Out Hunger event, encouraging students to be mindful of those in need. Schools included: Bardwell, Gombert, Johnson, Hall, Hill, Rosery, Smith and Todd. This was Gombert’s first year participating in the food drive.

National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Stamp Out Hunger

Members of National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Local 219 in Aurora and volunteers, left, organize donated food May 14 as part of NALC’s 24th annual Stamp Out Hunger event. Food is organized into separate containers for canned goods, dry food and glass items. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

“The students were so into it,” said NALC Branch 219 Trustee Mary Kluber. “Their enthusiasm was all because of the letter carriers who pick up mail at the school. They got the kids excited.”

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Students helped collect more than 5,000 pounds of food. Overall, Kluber said letter carriers from Branch 219 collected more than 50,000 pounds of food.
Food will be distributed to the Marie Wilkinson Food Pantries, Aurora Area Interfaith Food Pantry, Hesed House, Seventh-day Adventist Church, Kendall County Food Pantry and Two Rivers Head Start.

Due to cuts to social services in Illinois’ state budget, Marie Wilkinson Food Panty Director Diane Renner is seeing an increase in clients she serves. “This food is much needed because we have seen a jump in clients that we haven’t seen before,” she explained.