Two months after the coronavirus pandemic caused the indefinite closure of Atlantic City’s casinos and left thousands of hard-working union members with no jobs, union brothers and sisters gave other brothers and sisters a hand up, not a handout.
Yes, on a warm spring Thursday in May, some unemployed hospitality industry workers and their neighbors saw a ray of sunshine thanks to their brothers and sisters and other generous donors.
A food distribution at Bader Field on May 14 coordinated by the New Jersey State AFL-CIO, Unite Here Local 54, the Community FoodBank of New Jersey’s Southern Branch and the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority provided hundreds of emergency meal kits.
“This is a tremendous example of the success we can achieve when labor, business and government come together to benefit our brothers and sisters in need,” said Charles Wowkanech, President of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO.
New Jersey Lt. Gov. Sheila Y. Oliver offered encouragement to dozens of volunteers – many of them hit hard themselves by the shutdown and its ongoing effects – who hoisted and hefted the packages into recipients’ car trunks and hatches during the drive-by distribution.
Generosity was plentiful: Sponsors included the New Jersey State AFL-CIO and Affiliates, the CRDA, Unite Here Local 54, Resorts Casino Hotel, Jim Allen and the Jingoli and Morris Family.
The volunteers arrived early to organize the groceries and get the kits lined up for their brothers and sisters. Teams worked like seasoned pros – even the first-timers – keeping the wait time to a minimum for recipients.
Union members from Unite Here, IATSE, the UAW, Teamsters, Operating Engineers and others – all affected by the coronavirus’ unprecedented economic impact – brought their skills and energy and union colors to stand with their hospitality sector sisters and brothers to make the day a success.
Food distributions like these are expected to continue as long as union members are in need, and it’s clear that every time a union member is in need, their fellow brothers and sisters will step up and do again what they did on this warm spring Thursday in May.