A group of York academics and labour unions have produced a webinar and are inviting activists to take action against environmental racism. The free event, titled “What can Unions do to stop Environmental Racism,” will be conducted via Zoom on July 23 at 7 p.m.
Hosted by Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Respond to Climate Change (ACW), which is based out of York University, as well as the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) and the Asian Canadian Labour Alliance (ACLA), the webinar will explore how COVID-19 has exposed the deep economic and environmental inequalities experienced by Racialized and Indigenous peoples in Canada.
Participants will be asked to consider the labour movement’s role in ending environmental racism, defined as weak environmental protections in racialized and Indigenous communities, toxins in the workplace, climate migration, gentrification and the absence of basic necessities like food and water, all of which unequally impact Indigenous and racialized peoples.
The webinar, co-facilitated by Jawara Gairey (ACW), Verda Cook (CBTU), Denise Hampden (CBTU) and Patricia Chong (ACLA), is being organized in response to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on racialized and Indigenous communities suffering from higher rates of exposure, transmission and death, as well as job losses, layoffs or inadequate workplace protections when deemed essential. The event takes place in the context of increasing anti-Asian racism and police brutality which has produced an unprecedented global protest movement.
“York has been a progressive and fearless university since forever,” said ACW Principle Investigator Carla Lipsig-Mumme, a professor at York University. “It’s no surprise that York students and teachers have come together with the labour movement to ask, ‘What can unions do?’ And, no surprise either that their webinar answers by calling for action.”
Lipsig-Mumme is the recipient of the Sefton-Williams Award for Labour Relations and Human Rights for her work with ACW.
Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Respond to Climate Change (ACW) seeks to look at how Canadian work, workers and workplaces can help slow global warming through an 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.
As the partnership’s lead organization, York University provides office space and many administrative supports for ACW, which is comprised of 56 individual researchers and 25 partner organizations in seven countries. ACW is funded by CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC. ACW was awarded the SSHRC National Award for Impact in 2018.
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. 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.
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.
Those interested in joining the webinar can register for the event by emailing ACWinfo@yorku.ca.