From the Executive Director's Desk

Climate change is already a major public health crisis and our continued inaction puts people's safety at great risk. As I wrote in this opinion-editorial for NJ Spotlight

"The latest hurricane disasters are yet another wake-up call. Climate change is happening and causing sea-level rise, worsening storm surges, increasing air temperatures that lead to more rainfall, and boosting water temperatures — all of which make storms more severe. July 2017 was the hottest month ever measured on earth, raising the temperature (up to 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than average) of the Gulf of Mexico, and making Harvey wetter and stronger, jumping to a Category 4 hurricane just hours before making landfall — an unprecedented event in decades of record keeping. Millions of people have been affected. People are in need of shelter and services, and just as we saw after Superstorm Sandy, damaged facilities are spewing toxic materials into communities, and public health is at risk."

Recognizing the urgency of the climate crisis and the massive threats to our coastal state, WEC partnered with more than 50 organizations to form Jersey Renews; labor unions, faith leaders, community and environmental organizations are standing in solidarity and urging action. We believe that strong actions to counter climate change also offer an opportunity to prepare New Jersey for the future.

Offshore wind is one golden opportunity to increase clean energy while putting people to work. John Shinn, District Director for United Steelworkers, and I recently co-authored another opinion-editorial, "Will NJ be a Hub or a Bust for Wind," which ran in The Star Ledger earlier this month. To reiterate our conclusion, "The long-term environmental and economic well-being of our state is directly connected to our successful transition to clean, renewable energy, and offshore wind is a critical component."

If you agree we need to do more, and you want to support action on climate, please consider signing our petition here.
In Solidarity,

I hope to see you at our Annual Awards Dinner on Thursday, November 30. Reminder, the deadline to place an ad in the commemorative journal is November 3. 

Hurricane Harvey dumped forty inches of rain in Crosby, Texas. This caused the Arkema Inc. chemical plant explosions due to failed back up generators, which were used to cool and stabilize the chemicals. As we approach the fifth anniversary of Superstorm Sandy at the end of this month, the Arkema chemical explosion incident is a stark reminder of why it’s important that Governor Christie provide public access to chemical emergency response plans.

In New Jersey, every municipality and county is required to have an emergency response plan in the event of a chemical disaster and communicate it with the public. It is particularly important since New Jersey has more than 5,000 businesses that use more than 10,000 pounds of chemicals and approximately 90 facilities that use extremely large quantities of toxic chemicals. See WEC’s Report, Access Denied from 2016 to see compliance among select NJ counties and municipalities, and then sign our petition demanding the Governor Respect Our Right to Know.

WEC Awards Dinner

Special thanks to our first three sponsors for the 2017 WEC Awards Dinner: IBT Local 877, AFTNJ and Carpenters Local 255. 

Once again, this year we have a great group of honorees, including:
  • Ken Hoffner
    Health & Safety Director, retired, NJ Laborers 
  • Hetty Rosenstein 
    Director, NJ CWA 
  • Assemblyman Tim Eustace
    Chairman, Assembly Environment Committee 
  • Lizette Delgado-Polanco and John Ballantyne
    Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters
  • Valorie Caffee
    Executive Committee, NJ Environmental Justice Alliance 
Plus our two Rising Star Award recipients: 
  • Eric Jones
    President, Plainfield Education Association 
  • Carimer Andujar
    President, UndocuRutgers  
This is our biggest fundraiser of the year. WEC must count on the generosity of our members to help fund our work. Please join us!

Mold in Schools

Another danger of our changing climate (rising temperatures, increased precipitation) is additional strain on our infrastructure, particularly our aging school facilities. This month, we saw multiple school closings due to mold contamination. Healthy Schools Now has a factsheet on mold hazards for those that are concerned.
More Foxes Nominated
and Appointed

The Senate has confirmed Howard “Skip” Elliot as Administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Elliot is a 40-year veteran of the U.S. freight-rail industry, and most recently served as group vice president of public safety, health, environment and security for CSX. What’s Elliot’s connection with New Jersey? He successfully lobbied Governor Christie to conditionally veto the Oil Train Safety bill removing the public’s right to know.

Then there is Michael Dourson, Trump’s appointment to EPA’s assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. Dourson would lead programs that regulate industrial chemicals and pesticides - an issue of particular importance in New Jersey.

During Dourson’s October 5 Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing, Senator Booker (NJ-D) questioning his commitment to protecting public health and the environment stated, “I don’t see this as leadership when you’re advocating for levels that will literally poison people. It doesn’t make you seem like a leader in your career; it seems like you’re a lackey, a corporate lackey doing the bidding of people that are trying to create in communities like the one I live in, where my niece was born, to create environments that are chemically toxic.” The Committee did not vote on his nomination, yet.

OSHA HazCom Standard
Second Most Cited Violation

For two years in a row, the Hazard Communication Standard (HazCom) 1910.1200 is the second most cited violation on OSHA’s Top 10 list. The sections within the HazCom standard most often violated include implementation of a HazCom program and training, followed by the requirement to maintain Safety Data Sheets.

Employers have a responsibility under OSHA’s HazCom Standard to educate and train employees about the chemicals they work with and how to protect themselves from any potential hazards. The NJ Work Environment Council training may be able to help.

WEC can provide FREE training to employers and workers on recognizing hazardous conditions, preventing exposure to chemicals, OSHA’s HazCom Standard and how it is now aligned with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and labeling of chemicals, and the importance of effective hazard communications programs.


Need a speaker for an upcoming event, meeting, or training conference on workplace, environmental, or school safety issues? WEC staff would love to help. Contact Cecelia Gilligan Leto for more information.
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Under One Roof
Thurs. & Fri., October 19-20

APN 2017 Poverty Summit
Friday, October 27

Saturday, October 28

Hands Across the Boardwalk
Sunday, October 29

WEC Awards Dinner
Thursday, November 30

Jersey Water Works
Friday, December 1

NJ Non-Profits Conference
Wednesday, December 6

New Labor Gala
Saturday, December 9

WEC Member Meeting
Monday, December 11
Individuals and organizations can join WEC & you may 
pay for your membership online.

If you aren't yet a member, please join today!
Workplace Violence PSA
A nurse tells her personal and compelling story of workplace violence.
Newsletter October 19, 2017
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