From the Executive Director's Desk

Dear Friends,

Despite many victories, it's been a tough year, and it looks like Omicron is going to make it a tough holiday season. COVID cases are spiking, so please stay safe and follow COVID safety protocols if you choose to gather with friends and family. If you are eligible for a booster, don't wait.

Here at WEC though, as 2021 draws to a close, we want to take a moment to take stock on what we've accomplished together this year.

WEC, with your support has:

  • Made New Jersey the east coast leader in advancing the transition to electric trucks. (The transportation sector is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the state. See the story below on the ACT rule.)

  • Advanced mercury-laced floor removal in schools by school districts.

  • Launched a series of webinars connecting environmentalists, workers, small business owners and community advocates around public banking and democratizing finance in New Jersey.

  • Advocated for a strong federal chemical safety rule to prevent chemical disasters that EPA is considering.

  • Trained more than 3,200 workers and community members on a variety of topics from right to know, occupational safety and health and runaway inequality.

To continue do this work, we need your help! Organizing public pressure, engaging allies, producing hard hitting research, educating workers, and reaching out through the media – all of this takes resources. 

Please consider making a year-end donation to help us to continue this work!

And, as always, please enjoy a happy and safe holiday with your friends and family. Here's to a better new year for workers in New Jersey! 


Debra Coyle McFadden
Executive Director

PS Please consider joining the WEC team! We have a few open positions. See the announcement below.


WEC is hiring for the following positions.

Policy & Advocacy Director
The policy and advocacy director will be primarily responsible for policy development and senior level oversight to ensure high-quality organizational strategic and operational objectives are achieved in the WEC policy portfolio. A majority of the time will be spent on climate and clean energy work with partners in Jersey Renews. The deadline to apply is January 15, 2022. Read more here

Office Manager
WEC seeks an experienced Office Manager to be responsible for the general operation of our office and provide support to the Executive Director and Staff. This position begins ASAP and is part-time, Monday - Thursday/32 hours a week. The deadline to apply is January 10, 2022. Read more here.

Industrial Hygiene Consultant
The primary function of this position will be to identify and resolve environmental health and safety concerns, and to encourage all affected parties to work together in creating a safe and healthy workplace. Read more here. 


Victory! New Jersey is East Coast Leader in the Transition to Electric Trucks

On December 20, the NJ Department of Environmental Protection finalized the Advanced Clean Truck (ACT) Rule and Fleet Reporting Requirement. New Jersey became the first state on the east coast, joining California, Oregon and Washington, to establish a Clean Trucks program. 

The program will increase new in-state sales of electric medium and heavy-duty trucks starting with model year 2025. In addition, the Fleet Reporting rule sets a one-time reporting requirement to obtain information about the in-state operation of fleets of vehicles over 8,500 pounds that will inform future decisions concerning further emission reductions from the transportation sector.

This move by Governor Phil Murphy will significantly reduce tailpipe emissions and improve air quality. The transportation sector represents the largest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in New Jersey, at 42 percent of statewide emissions. While medium and heavy-duty trucks and buses account for only 4 percent of all vehicles on the road, they make up nearly 25 percent of transportation sector greenhouse emissions. The worst of this pollution burden is concentrated in New Jersey’s low-income communities and communities of color, with the majority of bus and freight depots located near or within BIPOC and low-income neighborhoods. 

Increasing the number of electric trucks on the road can also create good new jobs in electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure such as charging station installation and grid upgrades, and in the trucking and logistics industries themselves. In the wake of a public health crisis that’s worsened by air pollution and that has left thousands of New Jerseyans unemployed, we need policies like this one that can put people back to work tackling climate change and making our communities healthier.

“Clean air is key to student health, and student health is key to academic success,” said NJEA President Sean M. Spiller. “This new rule will bring more environmental justice to New Jersey communities and will make our schools even more successful in the future.”

WEC helped organize labor allies to support the adoption of ACT rules. See the July issue of WEConnect. Read the full Jersey Renews release here

Read the Op-ED from Scott Campbell, President, NJ State Electrical Workers Association and WEC’s Executive Director Debra Coyle on how ACT benefits workers.


A People’s Hearing for a Public Bank

A Public Bank has the power to change the way we think about our economy. But despite promises to the contrary, the governor’s implementation board for a public bank has not heard from the public. 

They’ve even proposed plans that don’t actually resemble a public bank, in order to derail the state from building a bank owned by the people of New Jersey.

In absence of these hearings, we have invited Governor Murphy to come hear from labor leaders, grassroots organizers and community leaders, small business owners, students, and environmentalists, on what we need from a public bank and why we need it! Join us virtually on January 24, 2022 @ 6:00pm and let your voice be heard

To get involved with this campaign, contact Brandon Castro at


Protecting Workers and Communities from Toxic Releases, Explosions, and Fires Using EPA’s Risk Management Plan Rule

Join WEC for a virtual workshop: Friday, February 11, 12:00pm - 1:30pm. This workshop will cover the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Risk Management Plan rule (RMP). The rule is an important safeguard to help unions prevent chemical disasters at our nation’s 12,000 chemical plants, oil refineries, paper mills, food storage facilities, and water and waste treatment operations.

Workshop Speakers:
Rick Engler, former Board Member, U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board
Paul Orum, Chemical Safety Consultant
Debra Coyle, WEC’s Executive Director

This program is intended primarily for union representatives with members at industrial facilities covered by the RMP rule. This includes chemical plants, oil refineries, paper mills, food storage facilities, and water and waste treatment operations.



Mercury Flooring Legislation Advances

On December 6, Bill A2078 which Requires new flooring for schools and child care centers to be certified mercury free passed out of the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee. The Senate version of the bill, S1715,was voted on in the full Senate on December 20 and passed 39-0. We now need the Assembly to take action this legislative session.

To get this legislation passed, we need your support! Please contact Speaker Coughlin at (732) 855-7441 and ask him to post A2078/S1715 for a floor vote before the end of this legislative session.

WEC, HSN, NJEA and partners have worked for years to draw attention to rubberized school flooring which may be contaminated with mercury. Since the 1960s, schools have used rubber-like polyurethane floors. Many of these floors, some installed as late as 2006, contain phenyl mercuric acetate (PMA) - a catalyst that releases odorless, colorless mercury vapor. 

Mercury vapor can damage the central nervous system, kidneys, lungs, skin, and eyes and is especially harmful to young children and fetuses whose bodies are still developing. For children with autism, studies show that their bodies have an even greater difficulty excreting toxic metals such as mercury.

You can read more regarding this health hazard in our materials. Please contact Heather Sorge, Organizer for Healthy Schools Now, NJWEC, at with any questions


Membership Meeting Recap

On December 10, WEC held our annual membership meeting! We heard from Mark Weber, analyst for New Jersey Policy Perspective, and Pam Frank, CEO of Charge EVC. Mark spoke about federal funding and the future of New Jersey’s schools and workplaces, while Pam detailed the ways in which federal funding can be helpful for creating EV infrastructure. We also heard about WEC’s priorities for 2022. 

WEC is excited to work with our membership in 2022 to reduce systemic inequalities in our workplaces, our schools, and our communities. To become a member of WEC, visit our website @ or contact Susan Esposito @ 


Omicron Variant

A new variant of SARS-CoV-2 was identified in South Africa and Botswana on November 11th and 14th, 2021. Named “Omicron” by the World Health Organization, the new variant was designated as a Variant of Concern by the U.S. government for its potential increased transmissibility.  

The CDC expects the current vaccines to be able to protect against “severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths due to infection with the Omicron variant.” While more research and information is being gathered across the world, the CDC recommends all people over the age of 5 to be fully vaccinated, and all people over 18 to seek out a booster shot “at least two months after their initial J&J/Janssen vaccine or six months after completing their primary COVID-19 vaccination series of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna.”

In New Jersey, the President and CEO of University Hospital in Newark, Dr. Shereef Elnahal has stated that the Omicron variant will become the dominant strain by early 2022, citing federal projections tracking the increasingly fast spread of the new variant over the Delta variant. Dr. Perry Halkitis, dean of the Rutgers School of Public Health, urges the governor's office to implement vaccine requirements for indoor dining as a preventive measure against the oncoming surge in infections, rather than wait to enact controls after the fact.


Preventing Workplace Violence Training, Wednesday, January 5, 2022, Noon - 2 PM

Join us as we discuss workplace violence prevention strategies, identifying safety system failures in the workplace, and OSHA and NJ state regulations that address workplace violence

Preventing Exposure to Workplace Chemicals, Tuesday, January 11, 2022, 1PM - 2:30 PM

Employers have a responsibility under OSHA’s HazCom Standard to educate and train employees about the chemicals they work with and how to protect themselves from any potential hazards. In this training, we will discuss OSHA’s HazCom standard, and how to assess chemical hazards and understand safety data sheets.

Identifying Workplace Hazards in the Time of COVID-19, Wednesday, January 19, 2022, 2 PM-4 PM

Understanding the hierarchy of Systems of Safety (with design as the primary system) enables workers to become active participants in developing and implementing safe work practices (“training and procedures”). Join us as we introduce the concept of Systems of Safety and identifying safety system failures in the workplace.

Violence Prevention Training Program Monday, January 24, 2022, 10 AM - Noon

Join us as we discuss workplace violence prevention strategies, identifying safety system failures in the workplace, and OSHA and NJ state regulations that address workplace violence


Event Calendar

Preventing Workplace Violence Training, Wednesday, January 5, 2022, Noon - 2 PM

Preventing Exposure to Workplace Chemicals, Tuesday, January 11, 2022, 1PM - 2:30 PM

Identifying Workplace Hazards in the Time of COVID-19, Wednesday, January 19, 2022, 2 PM-4 PM

Violence Prevention Training Program Monday, January 24, 2022, 10 AM - Noon

Public Banking: A People’s Hearing, January 24, 2022 @ 6:00pm

Protecting Workers and Communities from Toxic Releases, Explosions, and Fires using EPA's Risk Management Plan Rule, February 11, 2022 @ 12:00pm - 1:30pm


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

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