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Reversing Inequality, Combatting Climate Change: A Climate Jobs Program for New York State

By J. Muin Cha, Ph.D. and Lara Skinner, Ph.D.- The Worker Institute - June 2017

Economic inequality in New York is rising. Currently, the state has the second highest level of economic inequality in the country. Unequal job growth across the state and stagnant wages in several sectors are two of the main contributors to rising inequality. While the state overall has seen several years of employment growth, there are stronger employment gains in New York City than in other parts of the state still suffering from job losses and stagnant employment levels. Additionally, in many sectors, such as construction and manufacturing, wages are not increasing at the same pace as inflation, leaving many workers with paychecks that fail to cover basic household costs.

At the same time, New York is falling far short of its necessary greenhouse gas pollution reductions. To stop catastrophic climate change, global greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced at least 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, which would require four times the current annual emissions reduction rate. By 2050, New York State’s emissions must be only a fraction of what they are now to meet the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s targets set to prevent irreversible damage. We are far from that target. In the transportation sector, emissions are actually increasing and energy sector emissions may also be increasing given likely underestimation of methane emissions from natural gas.

New York State can take action now to protect New Yorkers from the worst effects of climate change, and do our part in reducing global emissions, while also fighting against growing economic inequality. Extreme weather, such as Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, is predicted to become more the norm, not the exception. These recent extreme weather events highlighted New York’s deep inequality: some could afford to leave the city or move into hotels when their residences flooded while others were left stranded.

Adopting a bold and aggressive plan to invest in climate-addressing infrastructure can be an important step towards simultaneously addressing the crises of inequality and climate change head on and position New York as a national leader in charting the path to a low-carbon, equitable economy. The recommendations presented below aim to create good, high-road jobs that provide familysustaining wages and benefits for communities across the state. These proposals could also result in meaningful emissions reductions and put New York on the path to building an equitable clean-energy economy that can work for all New Yorkers. The authors hope this report helps spark additional research and policy development on how to simultaneously reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reverse inequality by protecting workers and creating good, family-sustaining jobs in new lowcarbon sectors. Future research, in particular, could perform a detailed analysis of the cost of job creation strategies in low-carbon sectors, how to finance these strategies, and a cost-benefit analysis that includes the cost of potential job loss and reduced economic activity in high-carbon sectors.

Read the Report (Link).

Delivering Community Power: How Canada Post can be the hub of our Next Economy

By various - CUPW, Leap Manifesto, et. al., March 2016

Many think of Canada Post as a place to mail a care package, buy stamps or pick up the latest commemorative coin.

Some consider the post office past its prime: the last decade has seen efforts to cut, devalue and undermine this quintessentially public service. These moves have been fiercely resisted by people across the country.

What if our cherished national institution, with its vast physical infrastructure and millions of daily human interactions, could offer us something completely different? What if the post office could play a central role in building our next economy — an economy that is more stable, more equal, and less polluting?

Just Imagine...

  • Charging stations for electric vehicles at post offices
  • a renewable-powered postal fleet that connects farms to dinner tables
  • Door-to-door mail carriers checking in on seniors and people with mobility issues as well as delivering locally-produced food and other services
  • Post offices as community hubs for social innovation, connecting climate-friendly businesses to customers
  • Postal banking services that provide small towns and Indigenous communities with inclusive financial services – like loans to families underserved by commercial banks
  • Public-interest financial services that fuel the green energy transition in urban, rural and Indigenous communities We want a 100% renewable economy that addresses inequality, puts power in our hands and improves our lives.

Our post office can deliver it.

Read the report (PDF).

Shipyard workers demand environmental justice

By Ahimsa Porter Sumchai, M.D., San Francisco Bayview, February 1, 2015

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.

“Parcel A never underwent a full cleanup as required by the federal Superfund Act and was transferred with a litany of residual contaminants from lead and asbestos in buildings to arsenic, metals, motor oil and breakdown products of diesel in soil and groundwater.” This is documented in the Parcel A Record of Decision, a copy of which is included in my private archives of Navy cleanup documents. – Ahimsa Porter Sumchai, M.D. “The Liars Club,” SF Bay View, Sept. 26, 2007

A cleanup worker at the decommissioned Hunters Point Naval Shipyard (HPS) in southeast San Francisco is facing a rare life threatening cancer he believes is caused by his exposure to known toxins at the federal Superfund site.

Diagnosed with a Peripheral T Cell Lymphoma (PTCL), an aggressive high grade lymphoid malignancy arising from cells of the lymphatic system with a five year survival rate of 32 percent, the worker has retained the high powered New York law firm Weitz & Luxenberg. Representatives of W&L’s Environmental Protection, Toxic Tort, Consumer Protection Team will be in Bayview Hunters Point this week conducting meetings and investigations.

On Dec. 17, 2014, Weitz & Luxenberg announced a New York jury took less than two hours to award a $20 million verdict to the family of a Navy shipfitter who died last year of mesothelioma, against defendant corporation Burnham, LLC. In issuing the verdict the jury opined, “The defendant corporation acted with reckless disregard for the plaintiff’s safety when it caused him to be exposed to asbestos insulating their boilers.”

T lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell that plays a central role in cell mediated immunity. Many people are familiar with T lymphocytes because they are attacked by the AIDS virus and we measure their levels in people with HIV disease. In an aggressive lymphoma like PTCL, up to 70 percent of the circulating T cells can be in a cancerous blast form.

Research conducted in the 1990s linked solid cancers arising from cells of the lymphatic system to environmental exposures to PCBs, benzene, ionizing radiation, UV light and pesticides – all toxins that are widespread at HPS. In 2010 the Navy conducted a massive PCB cleanup action at HPS involving over 300 trucks.

The volatile organic compound benzene is listed as a carcinogen by the World Health Organization. Elevated benzene levels have been documented in numerous air monitoring studies conducted in Bayview Hunters Point.

Radium 226 is the most ubiquitous radioactive material found at HPS. Present in “Black Beauty sandblast,” radium dials buried in landfills and poured down the drains of the Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory (NRDL) on Parcel A, inhaled or ingested radium heightens the risk of developing diseases like lymphoma, bone cancers, leukemia and aplastic anemia.

Radium 226 is found at HPS in ambient levels so high that in October 2012, the U.S. Navy detected discrepancies in post remediation soil samples submitted by Tetra Tech field workers because the concentrations of radioactive potassium and Radium 226 were suspiciously low!

Tetra Tech is the Navy contractor overseeing the cleanup at HPS. A laboratory computer data base search identified 2,500 fraudulent samples collected from 20 survey sites involving Tetra Tech workers from 2008 to 2012.

Radiation Control Technician Ray Roberson was one of several field employees and supervisors listed on the chain of custody for the suspicious soil samples. Two of the field workers were terminated and Ray Roberson conveniently died at the conclusion of the damaging investigation.

Interview - The Politics of Going Green

Chris Williams and Robert Pollin interviewed by Jessica Desvarieux - The Real News Network, July 30, 2014

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.

Biography

Chris Williams is a long-time environmental activist and author of Ecology and Socialism: Solutions to Capitalist Ecological Crisis. He is chair of the science department at Packer Collegiate Institute and adjunct professor at Pace University, in the Department of Chemistry and Physical Science. His writings have appeared in numerous publications, including TruthOut, Z Magazine, Green Left Weekly, Alternet, CommonDreams, ClimateAndCapitalism, ClimateStoryTellers, The Indypendent, Dissident Voice, International Socialist Review, Socialist Worker, and ZNet. He reported from Fukushima in 2011 and was a Lannan writer-in-residence in Marfa, Texas over the summer of 2012, where he began work on his second book. He was awarded the Lannan 2013-4 Cultural Freedom Fellowship to continue this work. He has just returned from four months in Vietnam, Morocco and Bolivia, examining the impact of economic development and climate change in relation to energy, food and water issues.

Robert Pollin is professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He is the founding co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI). His research centers on macroeconomics, conditions for low-wage workers in the US and globally, the analysis of financial markets, and the economics of building a clean-energy economy in the US. His latest book is Back to Full Employment. Other books include A Measure of Fairness: The Economics of Living Wages and Minimum Wages in the United States and Contours of Descent: US Economic Fractures and the Landscape of Global Austerity.

Our Plan for May Day — All out to fight for the working class!

Statement by United Rank and File in San Francisco - April 30, 2014

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.

On International Workers’ Day, Thursday, May 1 (yes in two days) join us as we take our fight to “Smash the 2 Gate System” directly to those who profit from it.

If it is at all possible for you to be there at 5am, please do! We will need numbers in the beginning for the action to last and be successful.

If you cannot be there at 5am, get there as early as you can. Use this rough schedule to find us, and follow @UnitedRnF on Twitter to get updates. Obviously, some of this may require adjustment due to circumstances that morning but generally you should be able to meet up with us along the way.

Here is the plan:

5am – Meet at 16th and Mission

We will have United Rank and File T-Shirts and picket signs for folks, donations accepted but not required. Otherwise, wear work attire but comfortable walking shoes. Please, do not wear construction union specific (shirts/hats with bugs, etc.) apparel so as not to give the implication that this was organized by any construction union officialdom but by rank and file workers ourselves.

5:30am – March to 2 Gate Jobs

If you are not able to make there before we leave 16th and Mission, walk to Market and Guerrero. Cross Market onto Laguna. Walk a few blocks up Guerrero. Turn right, walk one block to Octavia. Walk back toward Market on Octavia. If you walk this route, you should see and/or hear us someplace nearby. There are a handful of 2 Gate jobs in that area and we will be at one or more of them.

6am – Set up pickets at 2 gate job(s)

We will have a flag at each location that we need to be at. We plan to have well organized pickets. Please know that we have a process for making decisions at this action should we need to adjust our actions. We will stay at any given location until an outcome has been determined.

10:40am – March to the War Memorial Performing Arts Center

201 Van Ness Ave. The Herbst building is currently undergoing a complete remodel. They are using the 2Gate System. A nonunion subcontractor is doing around 10 million dollars in work. This is unheard of in downtown San Francisco.

11am – Rally at the War Memorial Performing Arts Center

We will have a short speakout against the 2Gate System and building a sustained and united fight for the working class.

11:30 – March to City Hall to meet up with the Building Trades Council’s rally.

END – After this there are other rallies in the Bay Area that people should consider attending. If you are hosting or know of one, please comment with the information. 

As construction workers, are directly affected by the 2Gate system and so we strive to collectively lead this effort as organized rank and file workers. This is one part a larger struggle that affects all working people and for that reason we call on all members of the working class to come out and join us.

We also realize that solidarity goes both ways. Members of United Rank and File have gone to many other actions in solidarity and plan to continue in the future as an organization.

At this action, we ask that everyone comes in true solidarity. We ask that you be as militant as we are. We are respectful of everyone’s choice to protest in the ways that they feel are necessary at times but we ask that everyone coming to this action help make it a success in the using the tactics and strategies that we have worked very hard to organize.

We look forward to building United Rank and File and class solidarity with everyone!

See you on May Day!

Call to Action – May 1, International Workers Day

Statement by United Rank and File in San Francisco - April 2014

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.

United Rank & File Construction Workers Take A Stand on May Day

Join us as we return to a proud history of direct action to fight to protect our own livelihoods, to raise up and organize all workers and against laws that restrict us. 

On May 1, International Workers Day, we will be gathering at 16th and Mission at 5am to protest the 2 Gate System. This is a system that contractors and developers have created in order to impose the restrictive, discriminatory and repressive anti-worker laws of the Taft-Hartley act on construction unions.

San Francisco appears, on the surface, to be recovering from the economic disasters of recent years. There are cranes all over town and buildings are popping up everywhere. The people building these buildings are unable to afford the luxuries that many supposedly offer. We are also growing further and further from the chance of ever living a reasonable distance from the city in which we work. Most of us have long been unable to afford to live within the limits of the city we built. We see new wealth coming into SF all the time and yet we have gotten modest or no raises.

Many of us are lucky to have collective bargaining. We look forward to contracts coming up during this building boom. It seems the time has finally come for us to get the raises that we have lacked in the last few years while the cost of living has skyrocketed. We are looking forward to the opportunity to dig out of the financial holes we are in after years of unemployment, losing insurance for our families, losing houses and having to raid our retirement accounts to make ends meet. Now, contractors and developers need us badly and will have to give us a decent raise next contract, right? Maybe not…

Historically in San Francisco a vast majority of building has been done by workers who together, through their unions, bargain with all of their employers for a fair and equal wage rate for all of the labor done by their craft. This is still the case but we see other employers winning work contracts in SF at an alarming rate. Building has increased suddenly in San Francisco but it has disproportionately increased for the non-signatory contractors. There is an unprecedented amount of building being done by contractors who do not agree to the standards of pay and conditions that workers have fought for.

This gives signatory employers (those who employ workers under collective agreements) a powerful bargaining chip as we go into negotiations during this boom. They will argue that they need to stay competitive or the “union contractors” (and therefore workers) will all lose jobs. “Staying competitive” they argue, means that they cannot give raises, may even need some back, in order to compete. Suddenly, the snowball that has killed all the reasonably livable jobs across the country is being rolled around in San Francisco, the last bastion of hope for a decent living for those of us with blue collars.

Environmentalism and Gentrification

By Lizzy P - 2012

Sometimes movements for environmental justice fall into the trap of promoting gentrification. This text looks at how green consumerism, middle-class activist spaces, and even improved public transport can push poor people out of their homes, and how environmental activists can work against it. Written in an Australian context, print format:

PDF File

Recovered from zinelibrary.info

Environmental Impacts of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Building Materials

Joe Thornton, Ph.D. - Healthy Building Network, 2002

In the last 40 years, polyvinyl chloride plastic (PVC) has become a majorbuilding material. Global vinyl production now totals over 30 milliontons per year, the majority of which is directed to building applications,furnishings, and electronics. The manufacture, use, and disposal of PVC poses substantial and uniqueenvironmental and human health hazards. Across the world, govern-ments, companies, and scientific organizations have recognized the haz-ards of PVC.

In virtually all European nations, certain uses of PVC havebeen eliminated for environmental reasons, and several countries haveambitious programs to reduce PVC use overall. Scores of communitieshave PVC avoidance policies, and dozens of green buildings have beenbuilt with little or no PVC. Firms in a variety of industries haveannounced measures to reduce PVC consumption and are using or pro-ducing alternative materials in a variety of product sectors, includingbuilding materials. This paper discusses the hazards of the PVC lifecyclethat have led to this large scale movement away from PVC products.

Read the report (English PDF). (Link Only)

A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, and Construction (Chris Alexander, et. al)

Disclaimer - Neither Christopher Alexander, nor any of his coauthors are affiliated with or necessarily endorse the ideas of the IWW; this text is posted here under fair use guidelines for informational purposes only.

Written in a time when radical ideas had become somewhat mainstream and libertarian anti-state and anti-capitalist theories began to achieve popular consciousness, the ideas set forth in this book, including ecological notions taken from authors such as Aldo Leopold and E.F. Schumacher and workplace organization inspired by the anarchism of Colin Ward and George Woodcock, come very close (without necessarily realizing it) to the"green syndicalism" called for by the IWW EUC.

Unlike the specialized knowledge required to design cities, plan urban developments, or craft buildings required by conventional urban design--the results of which are often highly dysfunctional, authoritarian, class stratified, and anti ecological, A Pattern Language offers a bottom-up, "open source" set of patterns that anybody can use to design buildings and plan their neighborhoods, even whole cities, themselves.

A Pattern Language (PDF) - by Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa, and Murray Silverstein, et. al.,1977

Pages

The Fine Print I:

Disclaimer: The views expressed on this site are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) unless otherwise indicated and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s, nor should it be assumed that any of these authors automatically support the IWW or endorse any of its positions.

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The Fine Print II:

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