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Published: Friday, 8/15/2014 - Updated: 3 months ago

Groups reach out to union members

BlueGreen Alliance, others stress environmental preservation in wake of crisis

BY KRIS TURNER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Lee Geisse, regional program manager for the BlueGreen Alliance, speaks during a UAW Local 14 retiree luncheon at the Local 14 hall. Lee Geisse, regional program manager for the BlueGreen Alliance, speaks during a UAW Local 14 retiree luncheon at the Local 14 hall.
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As a group of about 65 retired United Auto Workers finished their pudding at a luncheon on Thursday, they were treated to a talk on the importance of environmental preservation.

The discussion, sponsored by the BlueGreen Alliance, mentioned the Aug. 2-4 water crisis, which left more than 500,000 people without usable water. The BlueGreen Alliance is an organization that works with U.S. labor unions and environmental groups “in pursuit of good jobs, a clean environment, and a clean economy,” according to its Web site.

“This unites about 15 million people,” Lee Geisse, regional program manager of the BlueGreen Alliance, said.

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Frank Szollosi, a manager at the regional outreach campaign for the National Wildlife Federation, said the devastating algae bloom signifies why cleaning up the environment is important. Mr. Szollosi, a former member of Toledo City Council, said it’s important that industry find a way to help the environment.

“I, like many of you, was just shocked by the development of Saturday morning. My neighbor knocked on the door and said, ‘Hey Frank, don’t drink the water. Don’t let your kids drink the water,’ ” he said. “My mother-in-law, she drove all the way down to Lima to find some bottled water. My stepdad drove all the way to Fort Wayne to find water. I know there are probably similar stories with you and your families.”

Mr. Szollosi said the Midwest needs to protect all of its environmental resources, especially in the face of climate change.

“It’s a reminder that we can’t take Lake Erie for granted. It’s critical not just for public health, but for our economy,” he said. “It’s a part of the greatest freshwater body in the world — the Great Lakes. So much of our industry relies on that fresh water.”

Terrilee Bunn, a volunteer at the luncheon, said people should learn about protecting the environment. Parents and grandparents can pass that knowledge on to their children and create a more informed society, she said.

“Decades ago when I was a kid, we did all kinds of stuff on conservation and preservation. That has kind of been lost,” she said.

Kris Turner can be reached at: kturner@theblade.com or 419-724-6103.



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