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By Jess Clarke
Amazon, long known for its low pay and bad labor practices at the company’s fulfillment centers, is starting to feel some heat. One of the largest trade unions in the United Kingdom, GMB, is staging ongoing protests, the SEIU has launched a “Warehouse Workers Stand Up” campaign in New Jersey and Sen. Bernie Sanders has introduced the Stop BEZOS Act. The legislation would recapture the hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars provided by the US Treasury for health coverage, food stamps and other government payments to Amazon workers.
"These diesel trucks are going to go in our neighborhoods, regardless if you're in Bloomington, Jurupa Valley, Fontana. These warehouses are going everywhere.... The beauty of this environmental justice struggle that we’re all fighting is that we’re not alone.... the beauty of it is getting the people together. We don't got money, but we got that people power." Chela Larios
Jess Clarke: Please welcome Chela from the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice from the Inland Empire. Coming at you from San Francisco Sol2Sol convening in the face of Jerry Brown’s West Coast world summit of climate inaction. Chela, what’s your full name?
An interview by Jess Clarke with Leo Martinez Macias
As the online retail market continues to expand, massive warehouse and distribution facilities are being plopped down in communities already overburdened by hazardous wastes, industrial and agricultural pollution. In Fresno California the city council recently permitted three million square feet of construction in what the California EPA measures as the most environmentally burdened census tract in California. Neighbors weren’t notified about the project until construction had already begun. Jess Clarke sat down with a local resident, and an attorney advocate who have been battling this new pollution source in their community.
California EJ Communities Bear Brunt of Bad Policies
By Eric K. Arnold
At the Paris climate summit, California Governor Jerry Brown played up his reputation as a progressive visionary—one of America’s most experienced politicians on environmental issues. He met with world leaders, did a photo-op with Arnold Schwarzenegger, and gave a speech to graduate students about climate awareness, saying, “we’re talking about a different kind of life, a life not based on oil, and a life not based on so much emphasis on the individual as opposed to the common good.”1
Events in recent years have triggered a reawakening across the United States of a movement that acknowledges the importance of worker rights and of protecting the livelihoods of this country’s working class. Historically, however, one group of workers has routinely been excluded from the gains made by the larger labor movement, i.e. farmworkers—the people who weed, pick, harvest, and pack, often in 100 degree weather, while routinely being exposed to hazardous chemicals.
Approximately 700,000 farmworkers reside in California at any given time. Farm employment is unstable and the average farmworker is employed for only seven months of the year (nine months in California). For female workers the employment season is even shorter. Jobs are scarce, even during high season. In California, about 350,000 jobs are available from April to October and 275,000 from November to March. Historically, migrant workers returned home during the winter months. However, with the increased militarization of the border, this practice has become harder and many migrants remain in the U.S. out of fear even in the rainy season when they have little or no income. And although a majority of farmworkers are male, women and children are increasingly crossing the border and entering the workforce, as men can no longer maintain a seasonal migration.