From the Executive Director's Desk

Each year on Workers Memorial Day, April 28, we remember and recognize workers who died, suffered from exposures to hazards at work or injured on the job. It is also a time to rededicate ourselves to fight for safe workplaces. 

Thirteen months into the pandemic, it is almost unfathomable to think about the toll COVID-19 has taken on workers. Essential workers, many of whom are people of color and immigrants, have put their lives on the line during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many were sickened or died as a result of just going to work - for simply doing what they had to do to support their families. 

We don't know the true numbers of how many workers died or became ill from job related COVID-19 exposures. Why? No tracking system was put in place either on the State or Federal level. 

We do know, the workplace fatality figures reported this year are just the tip of the iceberg. There were 210 reported fatalities in New Jersey. To put this in perspective, last year there were 29 fatalities. One workplace fatality a year is too many.

We also know worker complaints to OSHA increased by 20% in 2020 when compared to 2019 -- but safety inspections dropped by 50%.

WEC will continue to stand with our allies and fight for safe workplaces and worker justice. We will continue to demand that OSHA issue an emergency COVID-19 standard. We will continue to demand stronger whistleblower protections for workers. We will continue to educate workers and employers on COVID-19 awareness and prevention. We will continue to be a resource. 

We will continue to fight until there is not one more preventable workplace death, injury or illness.


Debra Coyle McFadden
Executive Director


We are proud to share the impact of WEC’s work in 2020. We did this work together with our members which includes, labor, community organizations, environmental organizations, and individuals.

Even amid a pandemic, together with you, we made significant progress in our other areas of work from labor friendly climate policy to public need and healthy schools. Click here to see the impact we made together!




Organizing Training
Public Banking in New Jersey
May 12, 2021, 5:30pm

Wednesday, June 16, 2021
Virtual Webinar 7:00 – 8:30PM 


Just this past week, WEC hosted an episode of our weekly COVID-19 series which touched on the absurd amount of evictions faced by renters during COVID-19, the skyrocketing costs of housing and rent, and the role large landlords backed by private equity play in making home ownership impossible for poorer residents, ensuring continued exploitation through high rents.

Public banking can help us alleviate some of these problems, and hamper Wall Street’s ability to exploit us through housing, by making targeted, affordable non-predatory loans to potential homeowners who would otherwise be exploited by big banks!

Join us on May 12 at 5:30 pm to work with us to build a comprehensive understanding and narrative of how a public bank can improve our lives and to develop tactics that can help us win!


COVID-19 Vaccines Eligibility Expands

As of April 19, all individuals aged 16 and older who live, work, or study in New Jersey are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. Vaccines are available to all New Jerseyans, regardless of immigration or insurance status. The vaccine is FREE and all six mega sites have walk-in appointments.

Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and New Jersey's vaccination efforts at To-date, almost 3 million New Jerseyans have been vaccinated.

Questions about vaccines? NJ Department of Health developed a COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ.

Biden Administration Accelerates NJ Wind and “Good, Union Jobs”

On March 29, top officials in the Biden Administration announced a set of actions to support rapid expansion of offshore wind energy, with a primary goal of creating “tens of thousands of high-paying, union jobs.” The announcement outlined plans for significant investment in factories, ports and other infrastructure to support a domestic supply chain for offshore wind manufacturing -- key to ensuring secure, long-term jobs in wind.

As part of this initiative, the area spanning between Long Island and the Jersey Shore in the New York Bight has been designated a “Wind Energy Area”. Offshore wind development in this region alone is projected to create 25,000 development and construction jobs from 2022 to 2030 and an additional 7,000 jobs in communities supported by this development, as well as up to 4,000 operations and maintenance jobs annually.

The emphasis this announcement has placed on the creation of good, union jobs in offshore wind shows federal support for advancing climate and worker justice together. We hope to see state and federal collaboration to push these initiatives even further and set an example for what an equitable, worker-centered renewable economy can look like.

We can't delay offshore wind! That's why WEC submitted public comments to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on the need to move forward with offshore wind in a pro-worker and environmentally responsible manner.


Preventing Toxic Exposures Where You Live and Work

On April 28, more than 20 people attended WEC's, Preventing Toxic Exposure Where You Live and Work webinar. We reviewed your "right to know " about toxic substances on your job and in your community. There was an overview of some important hazard prevention laws as well as resources to obtain publicly accessible data.

WEC also reviewed a new requirement that
some facilities that use extremely hazardous substances are required to hold a public meeting within 90 days of any incident that results in offsite deaths, injuries, evacuations, sheltering in place, property damage, or environmental damage. 


COVID-19 Weekly Updates: Saving Lives, Protecting Workers Recap

This month, we covered the new housing crisis that has been exacerbated by COVID19. We heard from Eric Seymour, Assistant Professor of Urban Planning and Policy Development at Rutgers’ Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy and Staci Berger, President and CEO of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey.

In our last episode of regularly scheduled episodes of COVID-19 Weekly Updates, we observed Workers’ Memorial Day and the deadly toll that COVID19 took on workers this past year. We heard from co-workers, community leaders and labor leaders who paid tribute to fallen workers and their families. We were joined by:

  • Yadhira Alvarez, Chief of Staff for the Laundry, Distribution and Food Service Joint Board (LDFS Union), Workers United, SEIU
  • Lou Kimmel, Executive Director, New Labor
  • Tiffany Beavers-Busby, RN in the medical intensive care unit at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, NJ and a Vice President of HPAE Local 5058

A summary of the episode is available on our website, but we wish to leave you with a profound quote from one of our speakers, speaking to the breadth of the negligence, greed, and incompetence of hospital lobbyists, pandemic profiteers and our federal government, and the death and chaos that ensued in their wake:

"The inescapable fact is that our employers needlessly exposed Frontline Healthcare Workers to the COVID-19 virus, lagged in informing us of exposures, including from co-workers. Then, the New Jersey Hospital Association lobbied to water down a law that would make hospitals collect and reveal data on workplace exposure of healthcare workers to the virus, including exposure that led to sickness or death. The net effect of that is that we know many healthcare workers were exposed, got infected and became sick from the virus but the total impact of that is a mystery because that data is not being revealed." -Tiffany Beavers-Busby, RN in the medical intensive care unit at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, NJ and Vice President of HPAE Local 5058

WEC, Rutgers LEARN, and Jersey Renews will continue to sponsor webinars on important COVID-related issues as they arise, however the series will no longer offer episodes on a regular weekly basis. Thank you to everyone who presented and attended this series. You made it possible!


From the Occupational Safety and Health Archives

As Worker Memorial Week comes to a close, here is a 1978 OSHA film on occupational cancer titled, More Than a Paycheck. The film features the late Dr. Irving Selikoff and is narrated by John Wayne.  

OSHA went into effect on April 28, 1971, after the tireless efforts of the labor movement, who drew major attention to work-related deaths and injuries, organized for safer working conditions and demanded action from their government. In the 50th year of OSHA, we must focus on the need to renew the promise of safe jobs for all of America’s workers. 

Also be sure to check out other historic films and film clips from the rich history of workplace and environmental health and safety. Thanks to Mark Catlin for creating this YouTube Channel!


OSHA COVID-19 National Emphasis Program

OSHA announced a new National Emphasis Program for COVID-19. It will focus on high-risk industries with hazardous conditions that put the largest number of workers at serious risk, and on employers that engage in retaliation against employees who complain about unsafe or unhealthful conditions or exercise other rights under the OSHA Act.

The highest priority industry continues to be healthcare. Other industries included in the NEP target lists include:

  • Meat Processing
  • Food and Beverage Manufacturing
  • Chemical Manufacturing
  • Plastics and Rubber Product Manufacturing
  • Primary Metal Manufacturing
  • Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing
  • Industrial Machinery Manufacturing
  • Transportation Equipment Manufacturing

OSHA will develop programmatic inspection priorities by focusing on the industries listed in the NEP. It will further identify specific establishments for targeted inspection by reviewing 2020 Form 300A injury and illness data. Read more here


New Jersey Work Environment Council (WEC)
172 West State Street 2nd Floor | Trenton, New Jersey 08608
609.882.6100 |

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