From the Executive Director's Desk

Just last week, I was really excited that The Star Ledger ran an excellent op-ed by our Healthy Schools Now campaign organizer, Jerell Blakeley, co-authored by Liz Smith, WEC Board member, and director of Statewide Education Organizing Committee. It's an excellent piece that highlights some of the challenges facing school facilities in New Jersey.

But in light of the recent tragedy in Parkland, Florida, it's hard to think about safe and healthy schools without seriously addressing gun violence. WEC has offered trainings on workplace violence prevention and featured guest speakers on responding to an active shooter. Yet, despite regular drills, 17 students died last week. The continued bloodshed in schools is beyond appalling and more must be done. 
Marie Blistan, President of NJEA, had a particularly relevant statement after this latest event. As Marie noted, "we also remember that mere sympathy without meaningful action will not help prevent future incidents like this."

Over the years, WEC has partnered with NJEA, and other organizations to address workplace safety. One resource that might be worth revisiting is this NJEA brochure on violence in schools. Although we clearly need a comprehensive approach to this scourge of gun violence, I share the concerns expressed by this educator from Manchester, arming teachers is not the right solution. We obviously need a much larger conversation about gun violence and safety in our schools. WEC will be talking with some key allies about how we might help move that conversation forward here in New Jersey. 

In the meantime, there are at least two national events planned in the coming weeks, a National School Walkout at 10am on the anniversary of the Columbine massacre, Wednesday, March 14, and a National March for Our Lives in Washington, DC on Saturday, March 24. 
In Solidarity,

Did You Know?

In the U.S, the healthcare sector is the single largest user of chemicals. Healthcare institutions routinely use a number of highly toxic chemicals from cleaners and disinfectants to mercury-containing medical devices and wastes and dioxin-containing by-products.

WEC can provide FREE training to workers and employers on recognizing hazardous conditions, preventing exposure to chemicals, introduction to OSHA’s HazCom Standard, and the importance of an effective hazard communication program. Contact Cecelia Leto at 609.882.6100 ext. 308 for more information.

Public Need Over
Corporate Greed

Join us on March 16th and 17th at NJEA Headquarters in Trenton (180 W. State Street) to learn how our economy, and our democracy, have been strip-mined by financial institutions. This intensive training will involve materials developed by WEC and Les Leopold, author of Runaway Inequality and director of The Labor Institute.

Join the 65 educators we've already trained who are working across Jersey to share this content within their organizations, spreading the word to fellow activists, and ultimately building a movement. Deadline is approaching. Space is limited to 20 participants. Apply today!

Whitman to Trump: Do More!

Former Governor Whitman recently published a piece in Newsweek calling on President Trump to make protecting our communities from chemical disasters a priority. Late in President Obama’s term a rule, more than three years in the making with input from thousands of stakeholders, was issued to strengthen safeguards for chemical facilities. Arrogantly, EPA Administrator Pruitt delayed the implementation of the Chemical Disaster Rule until 2019. The rule would help prevent disasters and protect first responders by requiring better coordination of information. Gov. Whitman wrote, “Freezing the Chemical Disaster Rule is not putting 'America first'; protecting families and first responders from chemical disasters is putting the American people first.”

WEC agrees with Gov. Whitman’s assessment in the article that the Chemical Disaster Rule was not as strong as we would have liked, but it was a step in the right direction. 

Transit Rally Success!

On Tuesday, February 6, Jersey Renews partnered with the Amalgamated Transit Union, New Jersey Working Families Alliance and other allies to rally in Jersey City for electrification of transit. Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and members of the City Council hosted the event and participated in the rally. Thanks to the Solidarity Singers for kicking us off with a song, and to all those that attended.

As Dan Fatton noted at the event, “Emissions from the transportation sector account for more than 40% of greenhouse gas emissions in New Jersey, so it’s critical that the state and other municipalities follow Jersey City’s lead by investing in alternative transportation, especially mass transit. The electrification of our bus fleets is just one common sense solution for confronting the climate crisis, with the added benefit of improving the health and safety of workers and community members.” 
2,500 Chemical Facilities at Risk from a Flood 

The New York Times recently analyzed federal flood plain data and found that nationally 2,500 sites that use or store toxic chemicals are located within flood zones. Sites are located in every state in the country. As the effects of climate change become a reality, we can expect more coastal flooding, as well as more severe and frequent extreme weather events.

This past year, Hurricane Harvey dumped 40+ inches in the Houston area. Houston is home to many chemical facilities and a number of refineries. This led to chemical releases in the air and in flood waters. The media reported widely about explosions at Arkema Inc. located in nearby Crosby, TX when a reactive chemical, organic peroxide, became unstable due to the refrigeration system being disabled from floodwaters. A dozen emergency responders were hospitalized after breathing in toxic smoke from the facility.

Recently, US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Pruitt was quoted in an interview as stating, “So I think there’s assumptions made that because the climate is warming, that that necessarily is a bad thing.” The workers and community members working or living near the 2,500 flood prone chemical facilities would probably disagree.

Toxic Secrets: 
DuPont’s Dirty Legacy in Pompton Lakes

Toxic Secrets, a four-part series examines how toxic contamination from a former DuPont ammunition site wound up under 400 homes in Pompton Lakes. This excellent investigative series in The Record and was written by James O’Neal and Scott Fallon. It documents how thirty years of delay by DuPont to clean up the contaminated site has led to a community riddled with cancer and other rare diseases. The series examines when DuPont knew about the toxic vapors and how the regulatory system left residents exposed.

Become a Member
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Take Action

NJ Time to Care
Tele-Town Hall on
NJ Earned Sick Days

Wednesday, Feb. 21

Public Need Over
Corporate Greed
Train the Trainer

Friday, March 16 &
Saturday, March 17

Workers and Women's
Justice Lobby Day

Monday, March 26

Offshore Wind
Partnering Forum

April 3-6

Workers Memorial Day
Rally and March

Sunday, April 22
Individuals and organizations can join WEC & you may 
pay for your membership online.

New year, new membership. 
Please consider joining in 2018!
Economic development and environmental protection can happen hand in hand
Dan Fatton speaks with NJ Climate Adaptation Alliance
Newsletter February 21, 2018
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