Newly-arrived immigrants and refugees to St. Cloud, MN have a new place to receive training and support services thanks to members of IAM Local 623, who recently helped prepare a new training facility dedicated to helping immigrant families in their move to Central Minnesota.
Nearly a dozen Local 623 union volunteers helped Hands Across the World scrub walls, wash windows, clean tables and move over 18 sewing machines and training materials into the basement of the training center. The sewing machines are used to train individuals on how to sew, enabling them to obtain jobs with local employers.
“Hands Across the World serves families from different countries and ethnic backgrounds who have newly arrived in Central Minnesota,” said IAM Local 623 Directing Business Representative Colleen Murphy-Cooney. “The program also emphasizes cultural diversity, new friendships, self-sufficiency, pathways to citizenship and most importantly a true sense of feeling welcomed to their new home.”
The effort was a part of the IAM Midwest Territory’s “IAM H.E.L.P.S. in the Community” program, an initiative to support the Territory’s continued efforts to provide essential support to the communities in which we live. IAM H.E.L.P.S. stands for Honoring, Engaging, Lifting, Providing and Servicing.
“We had a wonderful time working together with the community cleaning and preparing the room for training,” said Murphy-Cooney. “Our group of volunteers kept things moving right along. Hands Across the World Executive Director Brianda Cediel said she was not used to moving at the pace our group was going. One of the machines must have weighed in at about 300 pounds! Thank you to all who came out to lend a helping hand. We would not have been able to accomplish what we set out to achieve without the help of our volunteers.”
Many of the IAM Local 623 volunteers who took part in the service project work for the community’s fifth-largest employer, Electrolux. The project took place before Electrolux’s recent announcement that it will be closing its St. Cloud facility and moving the work to South Carolina. The news, a huge blow to the St. Cloud community, is expected to affect more than 800 IAM Local 623 members.
As IAM leaders work with local, state, and federal officials to encourage the company to reconsider its decision to move, IAM leaders hope the company understands the true value of its St. Cloud workforce, said IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Philip J. Gruber.
“Electrolux is preparing to leave behind a dedicated, highly-skilled group of workers. Workers, who not only take pride in their work, but also hold tight a strong pride in their diverse community,” said Gruber. “I want to thank IAM Local 623 members for your service to others. We will continue to fight. Your union and community have your backs, just as you have ours.”