UNITE HERE Local 54 casino workers in Atlantic City, N.J., are pitching in to help their members and the local community impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Local 54 has started a Helping Hands Relief Center to provide the public with information and help to apply for services. Local 54 President Bob McDevitt told the Press of Atlantic City newspaper:
There is an incredible need in the community....We felt we should coordinate this. As far as organizations go, we connect to most of the people.
McDevitt said many UNITE HERE members haven't worked in weeks, and it may be a long time before all the casinos operate with full staff.
Press of Atlantic City reported:
The union reached out to as many organizations as it could to find services to help the employees. The church has representatives and information for programs from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, utility companies, Catholic Charities and the American Red Cross. Its people can help the employees sign up for assistance with food, clothing, shelter and unemployment benefits.
The union put the word out to its members and expected a soft opening at 10 a.m. Friday at St. Michael’s. When they arrived at 8 a.m., a line of people had been waiting for two hours. Organizers expected more than 1,000 people to receive assistance Friday, as a large line snaked through the parking lot all day.
Cleveland Cook, a restaurant worker at Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, waited in line for five hours on Friday to receive assistance, along with 1,000 other people.
Cook told the Press of Atlantic City he felt more comfortable seeking assistance from his union brothers and sisters.
The union will do everything they can to help us.
The Helping Hands Relief Center will be operated at St. Michael’s Roman Catholic Church on 10 N. Mississippi Ave., from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, except Sundays through Nov. 20. Services are available to anyone in the area.