To Rebound Faster from Disaster, Unions and Red Cross Forge “Labor Resilience” Partnership


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Thursday, October 18th, 2018

LA Fed contact: Josh Kamensky – 323 326 7438 –
American Red Cross contact: Jon Myers – 310-775-5288 –




On the day of the “Great Shakeout” emergency response demonstration, two Los Angeles community organizations with broad, regional reach are showing Angelenos what happens in the hours, days, weeks and months after the disaster.

The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor (LA Fed) and the American Red Cross (ARC) have formed a partnership supported by the Emergency Management Department for the City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management. The partnership’s goal is to train 100 union members in emergency response by the end of 2018. It will also identify critical skills (heavy equipment operation, logistics, etc.) and resources that can be strategically deployed following a major disaster.

“Our building trades members can operate heavy equipment that can clear rubble. Our Hollywood unions can set up a city in a day,” said Rusty Hicks, President of the Los Angeles Federation of Labor. “Building a resilient community requires each of us to get organized to help out in order to get each other back on our feet. And no one is organized to spring into action like the Los Angeles labor movement.”

In all kinds of emergencies, volunteers respond quickly to lend aid. First responders and emergency management officials want to identify would-be “spontaneous volunteers”—the public-spirited people who rush to lend a hand or help a neighbor in the immediate aftermath of a disaster-and convert them in advance into “affiliated volunteers”, who have been trained to assist by the American Red Cross or similar organizations.

“Hours following a major disaster such as an earthquake, the Red Cross stands ready to respond and help save lives,” said Jarrett Barrios, CEO of the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region. “With this training partnership, we expand our ability to provide valuable resources that can staff shelters, assist in communities, deliver food and water to where it’s needed and restore stability.”

“Resilience and recovery are team efforts — and we need all hands on deck in the wake of any emergency,” said Mayor Garcetti. “Our local labor unions and the American Red Cross have the know-how and resources to help lead the rebuilding process after an earthquake, wildfire, or major storm, and their partnership will ensure our City and our communities are stronger, safer, and better prepared whenever disaster strikes.”

“When disaster strikes, it will take everyone working together to save lives and get our region moving again,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis. “By planning a coordinated response before a calamity occurs, LA County and our first responding partners can move quickly to help all of our communities in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. I am proud that LA County, along with our sisters and brothers in organized labor, the incredible staff and volunteers of the American Red Cross, and our friends at the City of Los Angeles, are developing positive solutions for these inevitable problems. In planning for the worst, we are seeing the best that humanity has to offer.”

By staging the announcement at 2:18 pm, exactly four hours after the Great Shakeout, the LA Fed and the American Red Cross sought to add to the conversation by focusing beyond the immediate aftermath of an earthquake, tsunami or other disaster. It could take the Federal Emergency Management Agency up to 72 hours to mobilize: what happens in the hours and days following the disaster? How can neighbors take care of one another and help their communities bounce back?

The partnership between the LA Fed and the ARC also coordinates with city and county emergency response organizations, in order to identify where affiliated resource assistance can fill gaps or free up government resources to address the most critical situations.