UWUA Locals Making a Difference

UWUA members take pride in the services we provide to our customers: clean water, reliable power, heat when it’s cold, cool when it’s hot. But we give in so many other ways, too. As 2022 comes to a close, The Utility Worker shines a spotlight on how members are making a difference in their communities.

Local 330 Executive Board and the staff of Abby’s House in December 2021.

BUW Helps Families in Need

For decades the locals of the Brotherhood of Utility Workers (BUW) in New England have been delivering holiday cheer to those who need it most. Since 2012, they’ve focused their efforts on the Abby Kelley Foster House in Worcester, Massachusetts, more commonly known as Abby’s House. Founded in 1976, Abby’s House provides shelter, affordable housing and support services to homeless, battered and low-income women and their children.

For the past five years, Local 330’s Karl Bjorn has become Santa for the day, to the delight of the Abby’s House children.

The BUW was founded in 1944 and became part of the UWUA in 1999. It’s comprised of 10 locals, all of which represent members at National Grid: 310, 317, 318, 322, 329, 330, 340, 341, 350, and 369. The BUW has a long history of philanthropy, donating to various charities in the Boston area, but “our efforts often felt like they were taken for granted,” said Local 330 President Matt Weldon. “Then we found Abby’s House. They so appreciated everything we did, and it’s been a partnership ever since.”

Every fall, all BUW locals work to collect cash, gift cards, and unwrapped toys and bring them to the BUW’s annual Christmas celebration in early December. Local 330 takes it from there, packing the items for delivery to Abby’s House prior to Christmas. Shane Benoit, Local 330’s treasurer, estimates the BUW has contributed about $100,000 over the past nine years.

Local 330 doesn’t just drop the donation at the door. Santa himself (aka Local 330 executive board member Karl Bjorn) delivers the packages and spends time with any children in residence. “You can see the difference we make on the faces of the children and their moms. They’re so excited to see us,” Weldon said. “And it’s good for all the union members who participate, too.”

This year, the BUW gathered on December 9 for its annual celebration, and Local 330’s executive board delivered an early Christmas to Abby’s House on December 12.