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EcoWobbles - EcoUnionist News #133

Compiled by x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, January 2, 2017

News of interest to green unionists:

Advanced Black Lung Cases Surge In Appalachia - By Howard Berkes, All Things Considered (NPR), December 15, 2016 - Across Appalachia, coal miners are suffering from the most serious form of the deadly mining disease black lung in numbers more than 10 times what federal regulators report, an NPR investigation has found.

Bad News for America’s Workers - By Joseph E. Stiglitz, Project Syndicate, December 19, 2016 - As bad as his administration will be for America’s economy and workers, its policies on climate change, human rights, the media, and ensuring peace and security are likely to be no less damaging for everyone else.

Bangladesh garment factories sack hundreds after pay protests - By Michael Safi and agencies in Dhaka, The Guardian, December 28, 2016 - At least 1,500 workers have been sacked from Bangladesh garment factories after protests forced a week-long shutdown at dozens of sites supplying top European and American brands.

Bye bye asbestos: ban welcome, but long overdue - By Dr. Elaine MacDonald, EcoJustice, December 27, 2016 - After years of inaction, Canada finally announced its intention to ban the manufacture and trade of asbestos by 2018. Once in place, Canada will join more than 50 countries with asbestos bans, including those in the E.U.Japan, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and South Korea.

CTA workers demand fair contract during ‘Day of Action’ - By Patrick Elwood, WGN TV, December 21, 2016 - Union workers from transit union 308 and 241 gathered at at CTA headquarters this afternoon at Lake and Jefferson Many, if not most of the men and women in the demonstration, drive the buses and operate the trains.

China: 460 million ordered to stay indoors - By Sean O' Torain, Facts For Working People, December 21, 2016 - After the collapse of Stalinism in the former Soviet Union a brutal Russian capitalism has arose and it has been much the same in the other former so called Soviet republics. But while capitalism has been restored the Russian bourgeois have been unable, at least so far, to develop a modern vibrant capitalist state with a growing home market and exports that can compete on the world market. It pretty much relies on its oil and gas exports and arms.

Coal Is Dying—Coal Country Doesn't Have To: Creating The Post-Coal Economy In Appalachia - By Courtney Balestier, Fact Coexist, December 12, 2016 - A trip through West Virginia and eastern Kentucky to meet the people who are striving to create a new economy that can keep the region and its culture alive as its major industry goes under.

The environmental movement grapples with social justice in the age of Trump - By Natasha Geiling, Think Progress, December 23, 2016 - The environmental movement’s gradual but marked embrace of environmental justice has come at a time of unprecedented attention to the issue at the federal level. The Obama administration’s EPA has sought to make environmental justice a priority within the agency, releasing detailed plans about how to take race, income, and other factors into account when crafting environmental policies and regulations. But the movement is at a crossroads, facing an incoming administration that seems to care little for the environment or social justice. So where does the movement — finally on the brink of breaking into the mainstream — go from here?

Fifteen Conservation, Farmworker Groups Urge EPA to Protect People, Pollinators From Dangerous Pesticide Mixtures - By Lori Ann Burd, Center for Biological Diversity; Jeannie Economos, Farmworker Association of Florida; and Preston Peck, Toxic Free North Carolina, December 21. 2016 - Fifteen organizations representing more than 5 million members sent the Environmental Protection Agency a letter today urging it to follow through on its duty to protect people and the environment from dangerous pesticide mixtures. The letter comes on the heels of an investigation revealing that more than two-thirds of pesticide products the EPA approved for four major companies over the past six years contain mixtures that make them more toxic than the individual pesticides on their own. The information on synergy was found in publically available patents filed by chemical companies, but apparently was not shared with the EPA by the chemical companies.

Five reasons to be optimistic about climate change - By Jon Goldin-Dubois, High Country News, December 21, 2016 - In 2015, employment in the U.S. solar business grew 12 times faster than overall job creation. There are now more solar jobs in the United States than jobs in natural gas and oil extraction. Nationally, investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy produce more jobs than investments in fossil fuels, according to PERI’s Global Green Growth report. The report also concluded that if the U.S. were to cut carbon emissions by 40 percent through investments in clean energy, 2.7 million jobs could be created annually.

The growing urgency of building a new economy in coal-powered Appalachia - By Marlene Cimons, Think Progress, December 21, 2016 - Scientist Jeremy Richardson lives in two worlds. Based in Washington, D.C., he specializes in energy policy and works to fight climate change. At the same time, he is the son, brother, and grandson of West Virginia coal miners and his roots go deep into coal country. He knows that coal mining is not just a job but a way of life, something those who want to help coal workers adapt to a post-coal future must understand.

I’m a cleaner on GWR trains. We’re striking because we’re treated unfairly - By anonymous, The Guardian, December 21, 2016 - When I’m too sick to work, I have two choices: either I use my annual leave allowance or I don’t get paid. If I don’t get paid, I can’t pay my rent, so I have to borrow money from a payday loan company. If I borrow money it’s difficult to earn enough to pay it back – but for me it’s worse to waste annual leave because then I can’t use it to go home and visit my family.

Justice for Nicinha and the riverside communities of the Brazilian Amazon - By staff, La Via Campesina, December 24, 2016 - Mother, fisherwoman, activist of Brazil's Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens (MAB – Movement of People Affected by Dams) and a courageous woman who was not afraid to denounce the human rights violations committed by the Sustainable Energy of Brazil Consortium (ESBR)  against the communities on the banks of the Madeira River, Nicinha was criminally silenced. Today, however, her voice has multiplied and continues to echo through each one of us who have joined her struggle and denounce on the occasion of her wake the hideous crimes suffered by the riverside communities of the Brazilian Amazon.

Key Federal Worker Protections May Be in Jeopardy Under Trump Regime - By Bob Hennelly, The Chief, December 24, 2016 - [A]ppointments to head the Department of Labor, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy may present unprecedented challenges to the tens of thousands of Federal civil-service employees who are committed to the mission of these agencies but will find themselves at philosophical odds with their new bosses.

Lessons from Richmond, California - By Sid Shniad, The Bullet, December 23, 2016 - Refinery Town describes the experience of the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA) in California's East Bay, showing that it is possible for community-based coalitions to overcome even the enormous wealth and power of a company like oil industry giant Chevron, which had dominated local politics in the area for generations, through corporate paternalism and strong-arm tactics. The kind of progressive change that is so badly needed will require the building of similar coalitions on widespread basis, both for the change they provide at the local level and as a sound foundation for the regional, national and international networks that we will need to confront neoliberalism globally. In any event, Early reminds us that under the prevailing circumstances, those seeking progressive social change "...have few short term options other than expanded grassroots work in the trenches of local politics, labor organizing, or social movement building."

Local control can replace 19th-century energy thinking - By Mary Geddry, The World, December 26, 2016 - The organization Trade Unions for Energy Democracy [TUED] states in a report entitled, "Resist, Reclaim, Restructure: Unions and the Struggle for Energy Democracy," that the "business as usual” approach does not benefit or protect energy workers and it "opposes the idea that the commodification of nature is key to solving the profound ecological crisis we face as a species.

"Plant righteousness for yourselves, harvest the fruits of goodness." (10:12)… - By staff, Coalition of Immokalee Workers, December 28th, 2016 - Writing on the first night of Chanukah, Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster (Director of Programs of the CIW’s long-time ally T’ruah: Rabbinic Call for Human Rights) took to the pages of the Interfaith Worker Justice website to draw a poignant parallel between the radical transformation of farm labor conditions under the Fair Food Program and the story of Chanukah, calling both exemplars of "strategic resistance and a belief in the strength of fundamental values."

Radical Drinking Water Radiation Rise Confirmed in EPA Plan - By Kirsten Stade, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, December 22, 2016 - EPA Hid Planned Exposure Levels 1,000s of Times Safe Drinking Water Act Limits.

SF may pay Muni operators $8 million in overtime lawsuit settlement - By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez, San Francisco Examiner, December 25, 2016 - Muni operators may net $8 million in a settlement from San Francisco as a years-long overtime lawsuit potentially comes to an end.

Workers Strike Paralyzes Oil Sector Across Brazil - By staff, Telesur, December 24, 2016 - Oil workers in Brazil began a strike Friday that has paralyzed all activities at Petrobras’ refineries and maritime platforms, union leaders say.

Workplace Deaths in 2015 Reached Six-Year High - By Niraj Chokshi, New York Times, December 20, 2016 - More workers died from on-the-clock injuries in 2015 than in any of the six previous years, though the rate of such deaths has been falling, according to data released last week by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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