What Can Unions Do to Stop Environmental Racism?
ACW, CBTU, and ACLA are hosting a webinar and inviting union and community activists to take action against environmental racism.
In this moment of tremendous social change unions are asking themselves: how best can we act to stop racism in all its forms and ensure that the transition to a “new normal” does not reproduce the inequities of the old normal.
What are we seeing in this moment?
COVID-19 has exposed the deep economic and environmental inequalities experienced by Racialized and Indigenous peoples in Canada.
Racialized and Indigenous communities are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, suffering from higher rates of exposure, transmission, and deaths. This is due, in part, to the environmental conditions that our communities live and work within. Racialized and Indigenous workers on the front lines have faced layoffs, job losses, or been deemed essential but not provided adequate protection.
We continue to witness a rise in anti-asian racism and police brutality which has produced an unprecedented global protest movement led by Black and Indigenous and Racialized communities.
What is Environmental Racism?:
The concept of Environmental Racism has been around for the last 40 years; however, examples of Environmental Racism date back centuries. The term originally coined by Dr. Benjamin Chavez in 1981 referred to weak environmental protections in racialized and indigenous communities. Since the original conception the term has expanded to include “toxins in the workplace, climate migration (climigration), gentrification, and the absence of basic necessities like food and water; all of which unequally impact Indigenous and racialized people.” (https://ourtimes.ca/article/green-is-not-white)
Across the world greenhouse gas emissions have reduced as a result of economic contraction. However, these temporarily lower emissions mask the deep racial inequalities that have been exposed through the pandemic.
Who we are:
Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Respond to Climate Change (ACW) seeks to look at how can Canadian work, workers and workplaces can help slow global warming and now works with six countries. This is a 11-year research and action project led by labour unions, the Canadian Labour Congress, labour federations, labour councils, and universities, who have united to work to slow global warming.
ACW recognizes the disproportionate impact of climate change on Racialized and Indigenous communities globally. In this moment of global climate threat and social upheaval ACW will not be silent and calls upon our partner organizations to take action. (https://adaptingcanadianwork.ca)
The Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU), has actively given voice to Black workers within the labour movement and community for over 50 years in the United States and 20 years in Canada (www.cbtu.ca). CBTU has launched the “green is Not White” environmental racism project and taken a strong stand in support of the call to defund the police. (http://cbtu.ca/2020/06/defunding-the-police/)
The Asian Canadian Labour Alliance (ACLA) is a grassroots collective of community and labour activists established in 2000 to give voice to pan-Asian trade union and community activists, Asian-Canadian workers, and the Asian-Canadian community at large. (http://aclaontario.ca/)