From the Executive Director's Desk

As COVID cases are on the rise again in New Jersey, both in positive testing and in hospitalization Governor Murphy signed Executive Order 192 to expand worker protections. The Executive Order also established a COVID health and safety training program for employees, worker representatives and employers. Please contact us if you are interested in this FREE training.  Please read below for more information about the new Executive Order. 

In other NJ Governor news, on October 21, former Governor Christie penned an op-ed that ran in the Washington Post reflecting on his experience with COVID (if you’re not subscribed to the Wall Street Journal, you can read about the op-ed here.). In his own words, Christie addressed the debate about wearing a mask. His conclusion was, “wear it or you may regret it—as I did.”

And in case you missed it, the CDC updated its definition of “close contact” to someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period* starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated. This change is significant for workers who have multiple exposures throughout the day to COVID.

Finally, WEC will continue to bring you COVID-related updates through our Saving Lives, Protecting Workers weekly webinar that airs Tuesday @ 10am. Although we are taking next week off because it is election day, our next episode on November 10 will feature former AFL-CIO Health and Safety Director, Peg Seminario. Register here.

In Unity,

Debra Coyle McFadden
Executive Director

PS Don't forget to vote!


New COVID Executive Order to Protect Workers  

After a six-month campaign to urge Governor Murphy to use his emergency powers to take executive action to protect NJ workers during the pandemic, the Protect NJ Workers Coalition, which WEC is a member, celebrates Governor Murphy’s signing of a Worker Protection Executive Order. The Coalition is led by BIPOC activists and essential workers, with members from a wide range of community groups, advocacy and labor organizations.

The new Worker Protection Executive Order (EO), which goes into effect November 5th at 6 am, will mandate key protections for workers and require that employers implement social distancing protocols, provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), create a worker notification program if an employee tests positive for COVID, implement mandatory times for handwashing, sanitizing and cleaning of workplaces and follow current state and federal laws to provide paid sick time off when necessary. 

The new EO will apply to workers in the public and private sectors. The Department of Labor will host a new webpage with information regarding the EO and where workers can file complaints for violations of workplace health and safety. The NJ Department of Labor and the NJ Department of Health will be charged with investigating complaints and holding employers accountable to the requirements of the EO.

The EO also includes a worker health and safety training program. It will be coordinated and carried out by Rutgers University. If you are interested in training, please contact WEC. You can read the full EO here.

‘This is a victory for workers. The EO provides an opportunity for workers, worker representatives and employers to receive critical COVID workplace safety training,” said Debra Coyle McFadden, Executive Director, NJ Work Environment Council. 


Driving Green Jobs Webinar
Thursday, November 19
12:00 PM
Register Here

WEC Annual Membership Meeting
Friday, December 4

Everyone is welcome to attend this virtual membership meeting


WEC Hazardous Chemical PSA




This year’s
National Conference on Worker Safety and Health (COSHCON2020), hosted by National COSH, will be a virtual event held on December 1-3 and 8-10. COSHCON2020 will bring together workers, unions, occupational health and safety experts, worker centers and other activists to learn about and organize ourselves around labor health and safety issues.

If WEC’s work for worker health and safety, a clean environment, or economic justice, has had an impact on you, or if you are passionate about health and safety in your workplace and community, you won’t want to miss it!


Highway Robbery in NJ?

In 2017 Autogrill Group, a massive international corporation, agreed to replace the NJ Turnpike’s service areas in return for a 25-year franchise to operate those areas., 

When COVID-19 hit, the Turnpike Authority forked over $40 million to the company after they claimed they lost revenue due to COVID-19. Autogrill group subsequently spent $35 million of that on a stock buyback - a financial move which inflates the price of stocks without adding any meaningful value to the company or the people who work there. 

In other words, they put most of that $40 million right back into the pockets of their shareholders and top executives. Read more about the move, and Unite Here’s efforts to expose it, here. 

And, if the ultra-rich robbing our state makes you as angry as it makes us, contact us to help organize a training and build local campaigns against it! 


Driving Green Jobs: Public Bus Purchasing as an “Engine” for a Just, Green Recovery

In January, Jersey Renews, which WEC is a member, mobilized to pass the EV bill, calling for 50% of NJ Transit bus purchases to be electric by 2032. Now, in the wake of a pandemic that has put thousands of people in our region out of work, we have an opportunity to ensure that these purchases not only help our state address climate change, but also create good, family-sustaining jobs.

On November 19 at 12pm, join Jersey Renews Electrify NJ, WEC and Jobs to Move America for a webinar on public purchasing of electric buses and other clean transportation goods as a driver for union manufacturing jobs. 

As Jobs to Move America puts it, “Every year, federal, state, and local governments spend nearly $2 trillion of our public tax dollars to purchase goods and services. Imagine if our trillions of dollars went even further. Imagine if every dollar spent on public purchasing also created good jobs in communities that need them most. Imagine if our public dollars also tackled racial and socio-economic injustices and helped build community power.”

We’ll hear from Jobs to Move America and other labor partners about the policies we need and the organizing being done to achieve domestic purchasing of electric vehicles and other clean transportation goods. Register here.


Preventing Hazards in Healthcare 
WEC was one of 90 selected out of 168 applicants to receive an OSHA Susan Harwood targeted topic grant to identify and prevent workplace hazards in healthcare.
WEC can provide FREE training on a number of topics from Identifying Safety System Failures to Preventing Workplace Violence and Safe Patient Handling.

For more information, please contact Cecelia Leto Gilligan at


WEC's Newest Organizational Members
Please help us welcome the following organizations to our coalition: 

  • NAACP New Jersey State Conference
  • Coalition Against Rape & Abuse (C.A.R.A.)
  • Laborer’s International Union of North America (LiUNA) Local 78

    Thank you for joining our coalition of labor, community and environmental organizations! WEC is comprised of organizations and individual members. We hope you'll consider joining us too! For more information, contact Debra Coyle McFadden at


Fall Conference Recap

Healthy Schools Now (HSN) held its Virtual Fall Conference, COVID: Inequality & Safety In Our Schools on Saturday, October 24. Three separate panels were presented to discuss critical issues that affect our school staff and students' health and safety.

Panel One: School Health & Safety Committees & Your Right to Know

• Debra Coyle McFadden, Executive Director, WEC

• Andrew Lewis, Organizational Development Consultant, NJEA

Panel Two: COVID-19 School Plans- Ventilation, Cleaning, & Disinfecting 

• Allen Barkkume, Industrial Hygiene Consultant, WEC

Panel Three: Inequality in Education: School Funding, COVID, School Facilities & Resources

• Brandon Castro, Campaign Organizer, Runaway Inequality, WEC

• Thomas Puryear, Education Chair, NAACP New Jersey State Conference

Thank you to the more than 30 people who attended!

Please make sure to visit the HSN Now Website for valuable resources and follow the HSN Facebook and Twitter pages for up to date information, alerts, and future event information.

Heather Sorge, HSN Organizer, can be reached at for information on how your organization can become a coalition partner.


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

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