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EcoWobbles - EcoUnionist News #157

Compiled by x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, June 9, 2017

A smorgasbord of news of interest to green unionists:

America's Toxic Prisons: The Environmental Injustices of Mass Incarceration - By Candice Bernd, Zoe Loftus-Farren and Maureen Nandini Mitra, Truthout, June 1, 2017 - "The problem is, the intersection of environmental justice and mass incarceration runs right into the teeth of prisoners not being considered worthy of justice."

Bosses responsible for killing mineworkers should go to jail - By staff, CFMEU, June 2016 - The latest shameful deal was struck on 11 May by the Queensland Government and mining giant Anglo and allowed three mining bosses to walk free after their involvement in the fatality of coal mineworker Ian Downes in December 2014.

Call for Minister Lynham to resign after black lung comments - By Elisa Fernandes, CFMEU, May 2017 - The union’s Mining and Energy Division General Secretary Andrew Vickers said while the report was a huge leap forward in the debate about the best response to this issue, black lung victims had expressed anger and dismay at the response of Minister Anthony Lynham; [related]: Black lung inquiry finds 'catastrophic failure' in public administration in Queensland - By Leonie Mellor, Rachel Riga and staff, ABC (Australia) News, May 28, 2017.

CFMEU raises light rail works safety concerns, uninducted workers sent home - By Finbar O'Mallon, The Canberra Times, June 2, 2017 - A series of safety failures on light rail project construction sites have allegedly been discovered during a union inspection, including unfilled water crash barriers.

Coal industry begs Congress to save carbon capture from Trump - By Zack Colman, Climate Change News, June 7, 2017 - The moves contrast with campaign images of Trump touting coal miners as the archetypal American worker and repeated references to “clean coal” on the campaign trail.

Coal Jobs Return To Wyoming - By Madelyn Beck, Inside Energy, June 5, 2017 -  Geno Palazzari, spokesman for the city of Gillette, said mines’ peak employment rates probably aren’t coming back, but people may still stick around, helping the community move forward.

Coal to solar switch could save 52,000 US lives per year - By Brian Bienkowski, The Daily Climate, June 5, 2017 - There are now about 260,000 solar jobs in the U.S., compared to just 51,000 in coal mining.

Coalition of Immokalee Workers news:

Construction Site: 3 workers die falling from 10th floor - By staff, Daily Star, June 7, 2017 - Lack of safety measures once again led to a tragic accident in the capital's Siddheshwari area, where three construction workers died after they fell from an under-construction building yesterday.

Detection of illegal asbestos imports triple, but still no prosecutions - By staff, CFMEU, May 2017 - The Australian Border Force has made 40 detections of products laced with deadly asbestos so far this year, a threefold increase on 2015-2016 figures.

Electric Trains Everywhere: A Solution to Crumbling Roads and Climate Crisis - By Stephen Miller, Yes! Magazine, May 30, 2017 - Solutionary Rail could not move forward without acknowledging this, and at the proposal’s moral center is a commitment to a just transition—a shift to a sustainable economy that addresses the inequities and injustices currently borne by laborers and marginalized people. The rights of workers and Native people had to be part of the equation, Moyer says.

EPA chief exaggerates growth of coal jobs by tens of thousands - By Mark Hand, ThinkProgress, June 5, 2017 - The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates there are currently a total of 51,000 jobs in the coal mining industry, almost equal to the number of employees Pruitt stated the industry had grown by over the last few months; [related]: Gazette editorial: The president’s betrayal of coal country - Editorial, Charleston Gazette-Mail, June 1, 2017 | EPA chief accused of ‘promoting global warming’ with unwavering support for fossil fuels - By Mark Hand, ThinkProgress, June 6, 2017 | Trump Says “Go!”: Part 3 - By Joel Stronberg, Civil Notion, June 7, 2017.

EPA forges ahead with staff reduction, buyouts to meet 'changing mission requirements' - By Robert Walton, Utility Dive, June 5, 2017 - The White House's proposed budget for the agency would cut its funding more than 31%. EPA has about 15,000 employees but President Trump wants to reduce that by about 3,200.

Face to face with the Wendy's bosses - By Pranav Jani, Socialist Worker, June 2, 2017 - As the Alliance for Fair Food (AFF) reported, Benitez and 26 other supporters, including myself, went into the meeting to confront Wendy's corporate leadership about its refusal to join the Fair Food Program (FFP) established by the CIW and allies as a monitoring program to prevent abuse of farmworkers by the fast-food industry.

Fight for 15 confronts McDonald’s stockholders meeting - By Ann Montague, Socialist Action, May 30, 2017 - The marchers connected their struggle with McDonald’s to the struggle for clean air and water. McDonald’s is the largest global buyer of beef, pork, tomatoes, and lettuce. They are responsible for farmworkers’ exposure to toxic chemicals and the environmental impacts of mass agriculture.

Five workers exposed to radioactive materials at Ibaraki nuclear facility - By staff, Japan Times, June 7, 2017 - The Japan Atomic Energy Agency said up to 24 becquerels of radioactive materials were found inside the noses of three of the workers, prompting the agency to check whether they face the danger of internal exposure to radiation.

Genetically Engineered Trees Conference Met with Protest in Chile - By staff, The Campaign to STOP GE Trees, June 5, 2017 - Anne Petermann, International Coordinator for the Campaign to STOP GE Trees stated, “Chile’s forestry model, advanced under the Pinochet dictatorship, has already resulted in wide ranging impacts.  It has displaced Mapuche communities from their ancestral lands, driving many communities into poverty and depleting their fresh water supply.”; [related]: Plantations Save the Day! (Or not…); Plantaciones Salvan el Dia! (O nó …) - By staff, Global Justice Ecology Project, June 7, 2017.

Groups Appeal EPA’s Refusal To Ban Dangerous Pesticide - By Virginia Ruiz, Common Dreams, June 6, 2017 - A dozen health, labor and civil rights organizations represented by Earthjustice filed an administrative appeal to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Monday, urging the federal government to ban chlorpyrifos, a widely used agricultural pesticide that has been linked to reduced IQ, loss of working memory and attention deficit disorder in children; [related]: Concerned citizens across the country reject EPA’s approval of brain-harming pesticide - By Audrey Fox, Friends of the Earth, June 6, 2017 | Seven States Challenge Trump EPA Decision Approving Brain-damaging Pesticide - By Brett Hartl, Center for Biological Diversity, June 6, 2017 | 7 States Challenge Trump EPA Over Toxic Pesticide - By Miriam Rotkin-Ellman, EcoWatch, June 6, 2017.

If Trump wanted to create jobs, he’d treat climate change like the crisis of WWII - By Meteor Blades, Red, Green, and Blue, June 1, 2017 - The good news comes from the International Renewable Energy Agency’s annual reviewof jobs and clean energy for 2017, which was released last week. That review found that in the United States there are now 800,000 clean energy jobs, more than 360,000 of those in solar and wind alone. Just the 51,000-job increase in wind jobs over the past three years is equal to the total number of U.S. coal-mining jobs.

Interviews for Resistance: New Progressive Coalition Calls for “Millions of Jobs” - By Sarah Jaffe, In These Times, June 1, 2017 - A coalition of unions and other progressive organizations is pushing lawmakers on a jobs and infrastructure bill that would put millions of people to work.

Kale Workers in N.C. Show How Immigrants Can Win in the Trump Era - By Mike Elk, PayDay Report, May 25, 2017 - Workers in the kale fields routinely are forced to work in unsafe conditions without water. Worse, they face wage theft. However, in North Carolina, workers organized by the Farm Labor Organizing Committee are fighting back and winning victories.

La Via Campesina

Low-wage Workers Risk Lives in Cambodia’s Building Boom - By Tula Connell and Jennifer Bognar, Solidarity Center, June 2, 2017 - One-third are women, who receive lower wages and are limited to the least skilled tasks that offer no opportunities for training and advancement. These construction workers risk their lives each day on the job, scaling tall structures without harnesses, helmets or other safety equipment and often are not paid for weeks.

Making America first in climate denialism: Trump withdraws the US from the struggle against global warming - By Joseph Green, System Change not Climate Change, Jun 6 2017 - There should be demands for real measures to protect people's livelihood as the change is made to green energy. It's not sufficient to rely on the job shift from dirty to green jobs, nor to rely on infrastructure jobs. There must be economic planning with the direct aim of preserving workers' livelihood.

Mining Firms Hurt by ‘Ridiculously High’ Energy Prices in Australia Mull Renewables - By Jason Deign, GreenTech Media, June 5, 2017 - Another mining firm, Rio Tinto, reportedly cut production at its Boyne Island aluminum smelter by 14 percent in March because of soaring electricity spot market prices. The action caused annual production to drop by more than 88,000 tons and led to the loss of 100 jobs.

MORE JOB CUTS AT SHELL - John Donovan, Royal Dutch Shell Plc.Com, June 1, 2017 - Shell’s 1,700-strong workforce in Aberdeen were told about the redundancies at meetings on Thursday morning.

Nevada Legislature Passes Bill to Restore Net Metering for Rooftop Solar - By Julia Pyper, GreenTech Media, June 5, 2017 - Nevada lost more than 2,600 jobs after regulators eliminated net metering in late 2015. Major solar firms pulled out of the state, unable to make systems pencil; [related]: Nevada Legislature Boosts Renewables Target to 40% by 2030, Overcoming Casino Opposition - By Julia Pyper, GreenTech Media, June 5, 2017 | Nevada Legislature clears bills raising net metering rates, RPS mandate - By Robert Walton, Utility Dive, June 7, 2017 | Nevada Senate clears bill to raise net metering export rates - By Robert Walton, Utility Dive, June 5, 2017.

New York subways reach the breaking point - By Natalia Tylim, Socialist Worker, May 31, 2017 - This is the biggest scandal of all, and it's the essence of the neoliberal policies that have dominated politics for the last four decades: starve public services, blame workers for being greedy and wanting their wages to keep up with life, allow ceilings to fall on people's heads, and then have those people foot the bill to repair the very vehicles which allow them to get to work so that profits can be made for the rich.

No record of Air Corps health probe - By Joe Leogue, Irish Examiner, June 6, 2017 - The State is being sued by at least six former members of the Air Corps, who claim their exposure to harmful chemicals caused their chronic illnesses.

The Northwest is using grassroots action to fight fossil fuels — and you can, too - By Renee Lewis, Grist, June 6, 2017 - When the 1 million comments were delivered to Inslee in May, Stand Up to Oil’s event featured a commercial fisherman, a tribal elected official, a longshoreman union member, a local businessman, and an organizer focused on immigrant communities — showing the diverse coalition that is opposed to new fossil fuel infrastructure in the Northwest.

NUMSA will put pressure on Eskom to demand answers over the death of Thembisile Yende - By staff, NUMSA, June 1, 2017 - The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) will put pressure on Eskom management to provide answers over the death of its employee, Thembisile Yende. A delegation of local and regional leaders from Springs, which included the NUMSA 2nd Deputy President Ruth Ntlokotse, went to the family home to commiserate and express condolences to the family. Yende’s body was found locked inside one of the offices at Eskom on Monday, after she had been missing for nearly 12 days.

Paramilitary security tracked and targeted DAPL opponents as “jihadists,” docs show - By Antonia Juhasz, Grist, June 1, 2017 - Its surveillance targets included everyone from Native American demonstrators to the actress Shailene Woodley, along with organizations including Black Lives Matter,, Veterans for Peace, the Catholic Worker Movement, and Food and Water Watch. The records label the protestors “jihadists” and seek to justify escalating action against them.

Poor safety measures at site - By staff, The Hindu, June 6, 2017 - The tragic incident at a construction site in Pangappara, where land caved in killing four workers, raises questions of workers’ safety as well as unsafe methods used for carving out land, throwing all caution to the wind. The way the excavation has been done at the site shows there has hardly been any concern for the safety of the workers or of the residents staying in houses adjacent to the site.

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility - Protecting Employees Who Protect Our Environment

Putting the mask on TTC subway air pollution - By Donna Burman, Rank and File, June 1, 2017 - ATU Local 113 has made their position clear. They are pushing the TTC to allow workers the choice to protect themselves by wearing masks underground. The union has called for an independent investigation and they will consult their own expert to determine the health and safety implications for their members.

Retirees at GE plant in Canada see hope for health claims - By Rob Gillies, Associated Press, June 1, 2017 - Harding, who spent nearly 40 years working at the plant until she retired in 2004, has also had cancer, as have many of her former colleagues.

Sierra Club Agrees With Trump: He Closes His Eyes And Just Makes Decisions - By Jonathon Berman, Common Dreams, June 7, 2017 - Trump failed to mention the booming clean energy sector, which is the fastest growing job market in the country; [related]: Employment in the solar power industry grows at lightening speed - By Michael McDonald, Breaking Energy, June 7, 2017 | Red States Lead on Renewables - By Climate Nexus, EcoWatch, June 7, 2017 | Renewables Added Enough Capacity in 2016 to Power Every Home in the UK, Germany, France and Italy Combined - By Lorraine Chow, EcoWatch, June 7, 2017.

This Small U.S. County Just Became a Major Roadblock for Unrefined Fossil Fuel Exports in North America - By Judith Lavoie, DeSmog Canada, June 5, 2017 - The reality is that jobs would disappear if Cherry Point becomes a transit terminal for exporting raw materials, Buchanan said.  

Sydney bus drivers let commuters ride free in protest against privatisation - By Michelle Brown, ABC (Australia) News, JUne 1, 2017 - Thousands of commuters in Sydney are taking public transport for free today as bus drivers escalate their industrial action against the Berejiklian Government's plan to privatise some services.

Top 10 States Leading the Renewable Energy Revolution - By Ralph Cavanagh, EcoWatch, June 5, 2017 - Overall, wind and solar accounted for 61 percent of the new electric capacity added in 2016, the report said. And while the clean energy sector helps the nation cut planet-warming carbon emissions and clear the air, it is also creating jobs, an indicator that Clean Edge added to its analysis this year for the first time.

True Climate Justice Puts Communities of Color First - By Audrea Lim, The Nation, May 22, 2017 - Some say that the environmental-justice movement is centuries old: Native Americans have been resisting the theft of their lands since the white man arrived; the Chicano-led United Farm Workers have been fighting pesticide use in the fields since the sixties; and black sanitation workers—the keepers of the urban environment—have been protesting unfair working conditions since the Memphis Sanitation Strike of 1968—where Dr. King was heading when he was assassinated.

Trump has given us an opportunity to save the planet. Now we must take it - By Joe Ware, The Ecologist, June 6, 2017 - If Trump doesn't think turning US coal miners into wind farm technicians is feasible then he should take a look in Carbon County, Wyoming, where the Chinese are planning to do exactly that; [related]: Utility CEO Says Paris Pullout Changes Nothing, Clean Energy Still The Future - By Steve Hanley, Clean Technica, June 6, 2017.

Trump’s Full-Scale War on Food - By Scott Faber, Environmental Working Group, June 2, 2017 - (Among other things, he has): Punted on new rules to protect farmworkers from pesticides, and proposed to eliminate a program to train migrant and seasonal farmworkers.

Trump’s reported exit from Paris climate deal signals end of the American Century - By Joe Romm, ThinkProgress, May 31, 2017 - Also, by abandoning clean energy, which is the one new sector capable of actually creating millions of high wage American jobs, Trump is officially handing the economic reins over to Europe and China.

Under Trump, Worker Protections Are Viewed With New Skepticism - By Barry Meier and Danielle Ivory, New York Times, June 5, 2017 - There’s a relaxation in the approach to occupational safety and business is getting a bigger voice, while hard-won victories for safety advocates are being reversed.

US Climate Movement: Funnel Money Downward if You Want to Survive - By Patrick Robbins, East Island Journal, June 1, 2017 - In Washington State, for example, environmental justice communities opposed a carbon tax that was proposed last year by policy think tank Carbon WA without the input of climate justice groups — a tax that actually undercut a more equitable cap-and-trade measure that had been developed with labor and environmental justice groups.

We’re Winning In The Fight Against Corporate Courts And Toxic Trade Deals - By staff, War on Want, May 24, 2017 - In response, a  broad opposition to corporate courts has built up across Southern countries, civil society groups, among trade unions, academics, progressive political parties and UN independent experts.

What an Apple-Picking Robot Means for the Future of Farm Workers - By Andrew Wagner, PBS NewsHour, May 18, 2017 - Robots are replacing human workers at a faster pace than any other point in history. Most of these robots are in factories, but a new kind of mechanized worker has hit apple orchards.

Whole Foods represents the failures of 'conscious capitalism' - By Nicole Aschoff, The Guardian, May 29, 2017 - Mackey has loudly declared unions akin to herpes and state regulation little more than “crony capitalism” – that all we need to solve things like the climate crisis are better, smarter, “conscious” capitalists. The crisis of Whole Foods belies this notion. There’s no way to “fix” corporations’ compulsion to produce ever more, ever more cheaply. It’s written into the DNA of global capitalism.

Work and Climate Change Report - The green transition of work and workplaces: Research and News from a Canadian viewpoint:

Workers' lives are at risk after Federal Court ruling - By James Raynes, We Are Union, June 2, 2017 - Victorian Trades Hall Council is appalled by today’s ruling from the full bench of the Federal Court, which limits the ability of health and safety representatives to take action that makes workplaces safer and ultimately saves lives, in favour of allowing the ABCC and Turnbull Government to pursue their ideological crusade against union members.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

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