Newsletter October 18, 2016
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From the Executive Director's Desk

We know that corporate power and influence often thwarts progress on a range of public policies. Even when there is clear preference on issues of public health, environmental protection, workers’ rights, and civil rights, good public policy gets warped by narrow corporate interests and we lose. Time and again, business and industry have aligned with the very wealthy to prevent progress on the minimum wage, earned sick time, chemical safety, environmental safeguards, worker health initiatives, and information transparency, among other issues.

Meanwhile, everyday working people just can’t seem to get ahead. We work longer hours, and in some cases multiple jobs, but still can’t stretch our paychecks. We’re tired of Wall Street’s greedy financiers gaming the system in their favor and leaving us to fight over the scraps. Something needs to be done to address what is happening in our economy.

WEC recently hired our new campaign organizer, Brandon Castro, who will be working with Les Leopold, author of Runaway Inequality, and director of The Labor Institute, to coordinate trainings around the state. We will be building a broad-based alliance that will connect existing statewide and local organizations in support of common goals and to push a state-based policy agenda directly aimed at confronting corporate power. 

WEC represents more than 70 community, labor and environmental organizations, many of which already recognize that economic inequality is a foundational challenge we all share, even if our specific policy agendas sometimes differ. We realize that until we address the fundamental inequities in our system, powerful, special interests will continue to limit or derail good public policy, even when it enjoys broad support. We will continue to nibble at the edges and be told “there isn’t money” to address important priorities, unless we first rectify the structural issues that allow the wealthiest to gain outsized influence.

Please click here, or contact me to discuss getting involved with our new initiative. 
In Solidarity,

P.S. I hope to see you November 18 for the WEC Annual Awards Dinner & 30th Anniversary Celebration!
WEC Awards Dinner 
Friday, Nov. 18

Honoree Spotlight: Jim Young
WEC is pleased to announce that  
Jim Young, Principal and Secretary for The Labor Institute, will be among the honorees at our 30th Anniversary Celebration and Annual Awards Dinner on Friday, November 18. Jim is being honored for his commitment to unions and labor coalitions, especially his role in helping to found the national BlueGreen Alliance. Jim is a long-standing member of the Board of Directors of WEC, and he has written extensively about workplace safety and health, and the environment. See his full bio here

Please note: Deadline to sponsor the event or place an ad is Wednesday, October 26!
Linden: Stop Violating Federal Law
Mayor Derek Armstead of the City of Linden, NJ has failed to carry out his legal responsibility under federal law for ensuring that the public has access to an up-to-date Emergency Response Plan (ERP) in the event of a chemical fire, explosion or other toxic emergency. On October 5, WEC General Counsel, David Tykulsker, filed the required 60-day notice of the intent to file suit against the city of Linden for violating federal law on behalf of WEC and Teamsters Local 877. 

John Pajak, President of Teamsters Local 877 and WEC Board member said, “City officials obviously believe that they can just ignore the public’s legal right to information about our own safety. It is egregious that the workers at these facilities can’t access the ERP.”

See the story in the Union News Daily
Temperature Control Plans Needed
The Star Ledger recently ran our op-ed on the need for temperature control plans in our schools, authored by Jerell Blakeley, WEC's campaign organizer for the Healthy Schools Now Coalition. "Passing temperature control legislation and working with school districts to create common sense plans for addressing this increasingly common hazard would take us closer to realizing safe and healthy learning environments for all of New Jersey public school students," Blakeley wrote.
Climate Policy Discussion
WEC recently partnered with GreenfaithEnvironment New Jersey, and the New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance to host a lunch and learn at the Ironbound Community Corporation in Newark. More than 35 grassroots leaders participated in the meeting and ensuing discussion. Aaron Jones of 32BJ SEIU gave an overview of the NY Renews initiative, a broad-based coalition effort in New York striving to tackle the climate and inequality crises. Dr. Nicky Sheats presented on the environmental justice concerns with carbon trading and provided insights on the Clean Power Plan. 

To see the presentations, or learn more, please click here.
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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As a reminder, individuals and organizations can join WEC and you may pay for your membership online.

If you aren't yet a member, please join today!
Save the Date!

 WEC Membership Meeting
December 5, 2016
NJEA Headquarters
180 W. State St., Trenton, NJ 
Copyright © 2016 NJ Work Environment Council, All rights reserved.

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