1199ers joined with members from SEIU 32B, New York State Nurses (NYSNA), and unions representing auto, electrical, postal, government, communications and other workers, at a rally in front of the US Department of Labor that preceded the Peoples Climate March on April 29th.
Among the speakers was Almitra Yancey. These are her remarks, in a speech introducing SEIU President Mary Kay Henry to the crowd:
“I live in Staten Island and work just north of the Bronx. My commute to my job as a Customer Service Liaison at the Montefiore Contact Center in Tarrytown takes me about 90 minutes each way.
“In both the Bronx and Staten Island, I know first-hand, that the effects of climate chaos are not just a terrible threat to my children in the future, but they are also hitting home RIGHT NOW.
“In Staten Island we were badly hit by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, which caused many of my friends to be forced out of their homes for months on end while major repairs were done.
“Scientists have shown that as more heat-trapping gasses from the burning of dirty fuels are dumped into our atmosphere, storms like Sandy both here and around the world are more frequent and more intense.
“It is people of color and indigenous communities who are overwhelmingly on the frontline when it comes to the effects of climate chaos. It is just 10 percent of the world’s population are responsible for 50 percent of emissions, while the poorest 50 percent are responsible for only 10 percent of emissions.
“Burning oil, coal and gas is not only throwing our climate dangerously off balance, but it is also poisoning the air we breathe and the water we drink.
“Last month, President Trump signed an executive order to roll back vital climate and clean air protections. One energy and climate change expert called this action the most brazen and transparent assault on the health of Americans in her lifetime. “It boggles my mind that the President would deny science in this way. “At the Montefiore Contact Center we get calls almost every day from parents of children with asthma. In the Bronx, the hospitalization rate for asthma is five times higher than the national average. Many scientists believe that the high levels of pollution caused by cars and trucks on the major highways passing through the Bronx is a major contributing factor to asthma. “As healthcare workers we need to stand together and speak out against the current administration, who are now threatening the health of every single one of us.”