Unions spread generosity with peanut butter

UPDATE: See photo below of Snohomish CLC’s haul.


PCCLC’s record 2014 haul of 5,510 jars.

(May 28, 2014) — This year, the Pierce County Central Labor Council (PCCLC) challenged some other AFL-CIO Central Labor Councils to join them in collecting jars of peanut butter in conjunction with the National Association of Letter Carriers’ annual food drive. The Snohomish County Labor Council and the Northwest Washington Central Labor Council accepted that challenge and delivered in a big way, making local food banks the big winners.

Now in its fourth year of collecting peanut butter, the PCCLC once again set a record with 5,510 jars collected. That beat last year’s haul of 5,021. The PCCLC affiliate that donated the most jars in 2014 was Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 483 with 2,647 jars, more than double its contribution from last year.

A mohawked Alice Phillips in 2013. Next?

Last year, you may recall that IBEW Local 483 Business Manager Alice Phillips offered to get a mohawk if her union’s members doubled their donations of peanut butter from the previous year. They did and she did. This year’s redoubling means IBEW 483 President Mike Shook will be getting the mohawk. (Photo not available at press time.)

“The winner of this year’s peanut butter drive are the children and families of Pierce County who are in need,” Phillips said. “I am very proud of IBEW 483 members and our friends that helped collect this year’s peanut butter. No one should go one minute being hungry. This will help just a little bit to keep that from happening.”

The Snohomish County Labor Council, its affiliated local unions, and United Way of Snohomish County have been collecting peanut butter over the past several weeks to benefit Volunteers of America Western Washington. The 1,557-pound haul will be officially handed off to VOA for distribution to local food banks at a ceremony at noon this Thursday, May 29 at the Snohomish County Government Campus, 3000 Rockefeller Ave. in Everett.

(UPDATE: Here’s a photo from that event.)

Earlier this month, the Letter Carriers Food Drive in Snohomish County brought in more than 248,000 pounds of food for local food banks. Inspired by this effort and the PCCLC’s challenge, several local labor groups began collecting peanut butter. In addition to the SCLC, those unions include AFSCME Local 109, Professional and Technical Employees (PTE) Local 17, Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 191, and the Labor Advisory Committee at United Way of Snohomish County.

Why peanut butter? The United Way of Snohomish County explains:

As the end of the school year approaches, children that are enrolled in free and reduced lunch programs face uncertainty about where their summertime meals will come from. Peanut butter provides a shelf-stable protein that children can prepare at home. This nearly one ton of peanut butter is being donated to Volunteers of America Western Washington, and will be distributed to food banks throughout Snohomish County.

NWCLC’s 1,014 pounds of peanut butter.

The Northwest Washington Central Labor Council collected 1,014 pounds of peanut butter this month. NWWCLC President Mark Lowry said that many of NWWCLC’s affiliated unions had separate peanut butter drives and they pooled their donations, turning in jars with stickers that read, “Courtesy of the ATU.” Or IBEW. Or AFSCME.

“The goal was to make a dent in a world of need, and to show that union members are part of a caring community,” Lowry said.

Mission accomplished.

“It’s exciting to see how this has spread,” said PCCLC Secretary-Treasurer Patty Rose, who started her council’s peanut butter drive in 2011 with a modest collection of 173 jars. “Next year, I plan to challenge all CLCs in Washington state to participate.”

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