There Is No B PlanetOctober 15, 2019
1199ers around the Union participated in September’s historic Climate March.
1199’s youngest environmentalists led our contingent at the historic climate march in New York City on September 20, where they rallied alongside a quarter of a million other activists who took to the city streets as part of an international mobilization calling on governments to protect the earth and address climate change.
Children aged 18 months to four years who attend the 1199SEIU Child Care Fund’s Future of America Learning Center (FALC) in the Bronx appeared front and center, in keeping with the youth-led theme of the global climate protests.
Fatimah Smalls, an 1199SEIU delegate who works as a nutritionist at New York Presbyterian hospital, brought her 4-year-old son, Soriyah, to the march.
“It is their future we’re talking about, and we adults need to set an example,” asserted Smalls.
Earlier in the same week, more than 100 children from FALC marched around their day care center with their parents and grandparents carrying homemade signs to raise awareness of the climate emergency.
The children’s curriculum at FALC has been focused on global warming in the run-up to Earth Day next month.
A group of members’ children from FALC also delivered their drawings to UN Special Envoy for the 2019 Climate Action Summit, Luis Alfonso de Alba Gongora.
The protests in NYC and around the globe were designed to put pressure on world leaders meeting at the United Nations Climate Action Summit on September 23 to set clear targets to control emissions and put the brakes on widespread environmental degradation.
“We have to educate our children about the importance of taking care of our world,” said Fatima Bautista, who works as a Research Technician at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. “I want my four-year-old daughter to see that Mom is doing something that we strongly believe in.”
1199ers in Buffalo, Syracuse, Boston, Washington DC, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach also took part in the Sept. 20 global mobilizations, seeking to highlight the disastrous local implications of the global climate emergency. In 2012, hundreds of members living and working in New York City were directly affected by Superstorm Sandy, which caused widespread evacuations of healthcare institutions, homelessness, and property loss.
Scientists agree that our global dependence on fossil fuels for our energy needs is a key factor which increases global warming and, in turn, the frequency and severity of hurricanes like Sandy. Members at the Rockaway Care Center nursing home in Far Rockaway, NY, which was devastated by Sandy, gathered outside their facility ahead of the Climate March to highlight the problem.
In a poignant turn of events, the global protests took place just weeks after Hurricane Dorian ripped through the Bahamas and caused massive devastation there. Many 1199ers were participating in aid efforts for the Bahamas. (You can contribute via PayPal at 1199SEIU. org/Bahamas.)
During the NYC climate protest, 1199 members also recalled Hurricane Maria, the storm that devastated Puerto Rico exactly two years ahead of the march, causing more than 3,000 deaths on the island.
“Hurricane Maria caused a humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico,” said Jose Gonzalez, an 1199SEIU delegate who works as a Patient Billing Liaison at Mount Sinai Union Square. “My cousin and her family were forced to uproot their lives and move to Florida after the devastation caused by the storm. We have seen the effects of climate change. It’s the most important issue of our lifetimes.”