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Pierce County unions collect record haul of peanut butter

TACOMA (May 10, 2013) — For the last few years, in conjunction with the Letter Carriers’ National Food Drive (which is tomorrow!), the Pierce County Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO, has put out the call to donate jars of union-made JIF peanut butter. Last year, the goal was to collect 500 jars, and by the time donations finished pouring in, PCCLC’s affiliated unions had collected 2,031 jars of peanut butter for Pierce County food banks.


From left, Patty Rose, Helen McGovern and Vance Lelli. (Click to enlarge.)

This year’s goal was to beat last year’s total. On Wednesday night, the tally was taken and a remarkable 5,021 jars of peanut butter — an estimated 10,000 pounds of it — were collected by local unions for local food banks. Most of it was union-made JIF or Adams, both made by UFCW members at the Smuckers Corp. in Ohio, and each jar had a sticker on it saying it was donated by organized labor and by which local union. (See more picture of the haul at PCCLC’s Facebook page.)

“We had 35 locals contribute to this year’s collection and I thank each and every one for their amazing generosity,” said PCCLC Secretary-Treasurer Patty Rose. “We had one of the Teamsters 117 members from Davis Wire (where workers were on strike for three months last year) stop by in his work clothes and drop off a donation. He said he was giving back after all the help labor gave them during their strike.”

Here were the top contributing organizations:

Machinists District Lodge 751 collected 1,690 jars, more than tripling its total from last year. Special thanks to Terri Myette, David Henry and Rob Curran for their extraordinary efforts in organizing this haul.

IBEW Local 483 delivered 1,009 jars. Local 483 Business Manager Alice Phillips reportedly encouraged members to donate jars by pledging to get a Mohawk haircut if her members donated more than last year’s 483 jars. The clippers come out on Saturday, May 18.

ILWU Local 23 brought 828 jars, doubling their total from last year. For a union with just 825 members, that showed remarkable generosity. Thanks go to PCCLC President and Vance Lelli, a longshoreman, for being a driving force.

The Tacoma Education Association donated 682 jars. They were quietly collected from teachers at Tacoma-area schools and then a surprise delivery was made to the PCCLC.

All of the peanut butter will be donated to the Emergency Food Network, which provides food to the 67 food banks and feeding programs in Pierce County. EFN Executive Director Helen McGovern was at Wednesday night’s delegate meeting and thanked labor for holding the peanut butter drive. She said the EFN would hold on to the peanut butter and start distributing it in June when schools get out and kids don’t have access to the school lunch programs.

“It will be pretty hard to top this effort next year,” Rose said, “but we will certainly try!”

And special thanks to the PCCLC’s Nathe Lawver both for his hard work on this project and for bringing this important video (more than 32 million views!) to The Stand’s attention:

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