Newsletter November 23, 2016
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From the Executive Director's Desk

WEC has accomplished a great deal in the last 30 years, and we're working to build on that foundation with additional successes in the coming weeks and months. Yet, it's hard not to feel nervous about the results of the election and the coming onslaught from the federal government. Now, more than ever, we're going to need groups like WEC, and our coalition partners to remain vigilant and hold the line on our safeguards. 

We have to resist the rollback on health and safety programs. We need to stand up and protect environmental regulations that safeguard public health. We must stand up for unions and reject attacks on labor. We must stand together and fight for immigrant rights in this nation of immigrants. We must resist the march toward fascism and reject racism, whether overt, or implicit. More than ever, we need unions, environmental and community organizations to work together, and fight to once again make New Jersey a progressive state. 

We are actively planning how to unite a broader constituency behind our ideals. We believe that WEC can effectively advocate, in partnership with members of our coalition and other allies, for public health, worker rights, and environmental protection. We can stand in solidarity during both labor actions and environmental protests. WEC can also help shape public opinion. In the past year, we placed 8 op-eds on topics ranging from chemical safety to worker protections to healthy schools. WEC's strengths include providing quality small-group trainings, and helping organize various stakeholders to unite behind big ideas. Ideas like Wall Street and big corporations shouldn't be able to wreck our economy and our planet. Ideas like infrastructure investment coupled with climate justice can kick start a clean energy economy.

Thank you for supporting us this year, the 30th year since Rick Engler, Eric Scherzer, Jane Nogaki and a few others started with a crazy idea: that workers and community members have a right to know about dangerous substances, that labor policy and environmental policies are not mutually exclusive, and that NJ will be a better place to live if we have safe, secure jobs and a healthy, sustainable environment. 
In Solidarity,

P.S. I hope to see you December 5 for the WEC Annual Membership Meeting!
2016 WEC Annual Membership Meeting

Plans for 2017 & Beyond
including a panel discussion:
Preparing for the Future
Addressing Climate Change in New Jersey

Monday, December 5
12:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

NJEA Headquarters
180 West State Street
Trenton, NJ 08608

Lunch will be served.
FREE for WEC members, but please register 
for food count and parking instructions.

WEC Awards Dinner Recap 

More than 125 labor, environmental, community leaders and public officials, representing many thousands of New Jersey workers and residents, came together on November 18 to help celebrate WEC's 30th Anniversary and honor 5 outstanding award winners. WEC is grateful to everyone that bought tickets, placed an ad in our program book, and sponsored the event.  Special thanks to our sponsors: NJEA, USW District 4, AFTNJ, IBT 877, HPAE, CWA Local 1036 and PFANJ.

Please click here to see photos.
Please click here to see the awards journal.

Congratulations again to all of our 2016 honorees!
Linden: You're Denied! 
On October 5, Teamsters Local 877 and NJ Work Environment Council (WEC) filed the required 60-day notice of the intent to file suit against the city of Linden for violating federal law and denying the public access to information about chemical hazards. Read the full press release.  

The federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) of 1986 was created to help communities plan for chemical emergencies. EPCRA requires state and local governments to use data provided by industry to plan and prepare their community for potential chemical risks by developing Emergency Response Plans (ERPs) and make them available to the public. In New Jersey, municipalities and counties are required to have up-to date ERPs. 

Linden Mayor Derek Armstead continues to deny the public access to the Linden ERP. Since February 2014, WEC and Teamsters Local 877, representing chemical and terminal workers at the Phillips 66 Bayway Refinery and Watco Crude Rail Terminal, located in Linden, have repeatedly requested access to Linden’s ERP and have been denied. The most recent denial occurred on June 29, 2016.   

This violation of federal law is not unique to New Jersey. As reported in The Houston Chronicle, across the country the public is being denied their right to access emergency response plans. As Dominick Marino, president of the Professional Firefighters of New Jersey, said, “Planning for first responders and the public is critical to prevent the loss of life. It’s important that emergency planning information is reviewed and updated annually because conditions and hazards can change.”

Mandating Testing & Remediation of Lead in School Drinking Water

Recent reports of lead in the water supplies of schools in the local and national media spotlight have highlighted the need for broad legislative solutions to address this crisis.  On October 19, on the steps of Trenton’s Grace A. Dunn Middle School, the NJ Work Environment Council, Environment New Jersey and other allies strongly endorsed model legislation, sponsored by press conference attendees Assemblywoman Elizabeth Maher-Mouio (D-Mercer) and Senator Shirley Turner (D-Mercer) which will require public and non-public schools to test for and remediate lead in drinking water, and disclose test results in a proactive, transparent manner. 

Please view the video highlights of the press conference and read our joint opinion-editorial to learn more about our efforts.  

Concerned About a Railroad Bridge
In Your Community?

Aging railroad bridges cross many of New Jersey’s waterways. Many of the bridges are used to move highly flammable hazardous materials, including Bakken crude oil, throughout our state. The condition of bridges has been virtually unknown because there is no state or federal requirement for railroad companies to disclose bridge inspection reports, until now. There is a new tool available to the public to access bridge inspection reports.

The Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) provides a means for a State or apolitical subdivision of a State to obtain a public version of a bridge inspection report generated by a railroad for a bridge located within their respective jurisdiction. Note: the request has to be made by a local or state representative and it can only be for a bridge in their jurisdiction.

Take Action: Contact your local or state representatives and ask that they make a request for a bridge inspection report and to share that information with the community.

Learn more, and see the factsheet created by the Waterkeeper and Riverkeeper titled, The Fast Act: Public Bridge Inspection Report Requests.
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.
Become a Member
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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!
15 Generators PSA
Keep generators outside to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
Copyright © 2016 NJ Work Environment Council, All rights reserved.

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