The New Jersey Work Environment Council (WEC) is a coalition of 70 labor, community, and environmental organizations advocating for safe, secure jobs and a healthy, sustainable environment. WEC is an affiliate of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health. WEC works in multiple issue areas that are at the intersection of the labor and environmental movement. WEC is the nation’s longest standing state labor/environmental coalition and is an affiliate of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health. Description WEC seeks a full-time bi-lingual occupational health & safety (level 1) trainer to conduct health and safety trainings, with an emphasis on COVID prevention and awareness for workers. Audience includes workers, hard to reach workers, unions, employers, and community organizations. This position will help WEC provide worker-oriented training, building the regional health and safety movement and developing working relationships with labor, environmental and community organizations. In addition, this position will also help WEC advocate for stronger workplace protections. The breakdown between training and advocacy is approximately 70% training and 30% advocacy. This is a 12-month term position. The position will start as virtual and when deemed appropriate, it will move to in-person. The WEC office is located in Trenton. The [...]
Statement from Debra Coyle McFadden on being appointed to NJ Council on the Green Economy I am honored to be selected to serve on the Green Economy Council and want to thank Governor Murphy for this opportunity. I look forward to working with the other members of the Council to ensure NJ's green economy works for workers. As we look for opportunities to maximize clean energy jobs, we need to make sure these are family-sustaining, union jobs with strong worker protections -- and that they are accessible to marginalized workers who have traditionally been left behind. This is a once in a generation opportunity and I am ready to get to work. Read Governor Murphy's announcement here.
TRENTON — In advance of Gov. Phil Murphy’s budget plan being proposed Tuesday, groups have begun publicly pressing for him to end longstanding budget practices that shortchange priorities. Among the issues on that lengthy list are NJ Transit, which uses money from its capital program to pay operating costs, and the Board of Public Utilities clean-energy funds that are perennially diverted from their intended purpose to offset costs at NJT and elsewhere in state government. A coalition of groups under the banner Jersey Renews said in a letter to Murphy that the clean energy funds collected from ratepayers on electric bills are supposed to pay for energy conservation and other green-energy initiatives. They say it’s time for a dedicated funding source to support NJ Transit instead. “We understand this moment of the pandemic as a crisis and as an opportunity – an opportunity to reassess and redefine who we value and who we take care of as a state,” said Berenice Tompkins, the Jersey Renews campaign organizer. “What we’re really talking about here is taking the clean energy funds and using them for their intended purposes,” said Debra Coyle McFadden, executive director of the New Jersey Work Environment Council. “It almost feels like [...]
Governor Murphy Announces new Office on Climate Action & the Green Economy Statement from Debra Coyle McFadden, Executive Director, NJ Work Environment Council Today, February 16, 2021, Governor Murphy signed a Executive Order 221 to create a new climate office with the goal to advance economic opportunities in an equitable manner in the new green economy. This includes the transition to clean renewable energy. The Office of Climate Action and the Green Economy will also oversee a newly created Council on the Green Economy that will advise on workforce development for tomorrow’s green economy jobs. Emphasis was placed on ensuring inclusion for BIPOC and low-income communities and good jobs. Governor Murphy also announced investments of approximately $100 million from the Regional Green House Gas Initiative and Volkswagen settlement dollars, which will be invested in the transportation sector to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with a major emphasis on electrification and prioritizing environmental justice communities. Debra Coyle McFadden made the following statement: This is a big day for the environment and workers here in New Jersey. Since June 2020, WEC and our partners in Jersey Renews, have been advocating for a Just Green Recovery to help rebuild the economy from the devastating impacts caused by COVID-19 which led to [...]
Press Release For Immediate Release: February 3, 2021 Contact: Debra Coyle McFadden Cell: 609/707-1320 Email: email@example.com WEC, National COSH, and 100+ Worker Groups Release 2021 “Agenda for Worker Safety and Health” OSHA a catastrophic failure during pandemic -- agenda outlines how Biden-Harris Administration can protect workers and rebuild our economy As we hit the one-year anniversary of COVID-19 entering the United States, frontline and essential workers across the country continue to grapple with deadly conditions at their jobs. To save lives and get us back to work safely, the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH), NJ Work Environment Council (WEC), along with 100+ other organizations today released an eight-point “National Agenda for Worker Safety and Health”. “Workers are sick, broke and dying -- because so far during this pandemic, employers, OSHA and our federal government have failed to protect workers from the risk of infectious disease,” said Jessica Martinez, National COSH’s co-executive director. Endorsed by more than 100 worker and community-based organizations including United Steelworker District 4 and Health Professionals and Allied Employees, the National Agenda is a bold, transformational vision for the future of worker health and safety in the U.S. The agenda brings together ideas, based on real experience in our workplaces, to confront the COVID-19 pandemic and other longstanding workplace [...]
“Your average school building that you’re going to walk into today is not a commercial facility where you go to do your grocery shopping, or retail shopping, or even a lot of the office spaces that folks are used to going into every day. And even if you want to, it’s really difficult and expensive to retrofit these buildings with the controls needed,” he said. Barkkume discovered guidance for clean air even from the CDC has fallen short. “From the beginning and up until today, the CDC does not recognize full aerosol transmission of the virus and this trickles down to the state level and it informs the requirements the Department of Education places on school districts and it changes the way they do their planning,” he said. He is now working with teachers unions to raise a red flag about air quality in schools. He believes aerosol droplets can escape even when a person’s wearing a mask. And Barkkume says the state has no measurements to prove a school’s met the required clean air standards. There’s been a big focus on filters lately, with some districts investing in MERV filters. But Barkkume says that’s less important than ventilation. And it [...]
Heather Sorge, Campaign Organizer, Healthy Schools Now, WEC had an open conversation with Congressman Norcross to discuss school reopening and staff and student health and safety alongside Marie Blistan, President, NJEA, and Tina Dare, teacher and GR Representative, NJEA. School buildings must be safe for in-person instruction to resume. Watch the video here.
Child labor laws have been passed, a minimum wage has been set, overtime laws are in place, and there is a federal agency dedicated to occupational safety and health, OSHA. “So, what do we need unions for?” This is a common refrain uttered by opponents of unions as well as many workers who have never belonged to a union. Welcome to the pandemic terrordome. Read the entire op-ed here.
‘If you want to do it, do it right’ Last month, in conjunction with the Coalition for Healthier Schools, the New Jersey Work Environment Council (WEC) issued “The Pandemic vs. Schools,” a national call to action emphasizing the importance to districts of having a solid plan before reopening. WEC is a Trenton-based labor coalition that typically concerns itself with workplace health and safety issues. “Schools can either slow the spread of the virus or speed it up,” the report reads. “Right now, schools across the country are struggling to come up with these plans on their own,” a task, it argues, for which many are ill-equipped to respond on the fly. Healthy Schools Now campaign organizer Heather Sorge said an unprecedented absence of federal guidance for public school re-openings has resulted in uneven school re-openings across the country. She hopes that districts will take the time to create rigorous health and safety plans before returning to in-person instruction. “I know there’s a big rush to return to normalcy,” Sorge said. “However, if you want to do it, do it right. “We don’t want to go backwards, and we certainly don’t want to rush to find out that we were wrong, and that we started too [...]
There have been nearly 5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States, and this virus has no intention of going away anytime soon. As New Jersey plans to reopen schools, health and safety must be at the forefront. We cannot reopen schools without strong health and safety measures in place to protect our students and school staff. Given the lack of strong federal guidance, The New Jersey Work Environment Council, Healthy Schools Now coalition and the national Healthy Schools Network released A Call to Action. It calls on states to produce authoritative school infection, prevention, and control plans which local schools can adopt. This report, backed by science and developed alongside health experts, school advocates, and worker representatives is the first report that simultaneously prioritizes school staff and student’s health. Read the entire op-ed here.