From the Executive Director's Desk

This past Thursday, the Whitehouse and Congressional leaders announced an agreement on a budget reconciliation framework that includes $550 billion in the clean energy industry and to tackle climate change. There is $110 billion for new domestic supply chains and the manufacturing of technologies such as solar and batteries. It also includes investment in existing industries like steel, cement and aluminum, to make them more competitive. In addition, there is $320 billion in clean energy tax credits and an electric vehicle tax credit that will lower the cost of purchasing electric vehicles made in America by union workers and with American materials.

This is the kind of bold action we need to support union jobs and grow a clean energy economy.

What is missing is a fund for displaced energy workers. This is a critical component for a clean energy future to ensure workers in the energy industry are not harmed during a transition.

Please call your Representatives and urge them to support the climate and clean energy provisions in the budget reconciliation framework that prioritizes good, green jobs to build the middle class and to also include investments so no worker is left behind.


Debra Coyle McFadden
Executive Director


National COSH Worker Safety Conference December 7 - 9 & 14-16

The National Conference on Worker Safety and Health (#COSHCON2021) is the only national gathering of its kind. It brings together a diverse, inclusive and bilingual group of workers, occupational health and safety experts, unions, activists and academics united around common goals. This year there will be 30 sessions to choose from, and participants can attend as many (or as few) as they wish and contribute only as much as they can afford! All the general sessions, workshops, and the conference app itself will be fully bilingual in English and Spanish.

WEC is co-hosting two workshops:

  • Tuesday, December 7, 12pm - 2pm, COVID-19 Prevention 
  • Thursday, December 16, 6pm - 8pm, Climate Justice = Worker Justice

Conference registration information is here.


Victory! Department of Labor Begins Rulemaking to Protect Workers from Dangerous Heat

This past summer was dangerous and even deadly for farmworkers, warehouse workers and others who were forced to work without protection from the record-breaking heat. “Too hot to work” days are projected to double by 2050, proving once again that our climate crisis is a crisis of worker health and safety.

Even though heat is already the leading cause of death among all weather-related workplace hazards, there is no OSHA  standard to protect workers from it. That could finally be about to change! On Tuesday, October 26, the Department of Labor launched the rulemaking process to develop a heat standard for both indoor and outdoor workers. 

WEC has been part of the fight to win a national heat standard for many years. Thank you to the many groups we have fought alongside and particularly to Public Citizen for their leadership on this issue. 

A strong final standard will save lives. Starting this week, you can submit comments on the rulemaking at Comments should refer to Docket No. OSHA-2021-0009 and are due on December 27th.

Read Public Citizen’s media release here and the Department of Labor’s full statement here.


Check out this infographic from Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations.


Doug Parker Confirmed to Lead OSHA

On October 25, the U.S. Senate confirmed President Biden's nominee Doug Parker as the Assistant Secretary for Labor to lead the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Parker is a highly qualified safety professional with years of experience as head of Cal/OSHA, the nation’s largest statewide safety agency and former Deputy Secretary of Policy in the Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration during the Obama Administration. He also served as executive director at Worksafe, a non-profit that provides legal services and public advocacy for workers seeking to improve safety on the job. Worksafe and WEC are both proud affiliates of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health.

Read the statement from WEC on Parker's confirmation.


The CDC Issues Booster Shot Recommendations

The new recommendations from the C.D.C. read as follows: "For individuals who received a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, the following groups are eligible for a booster shot at 6 months or more after their initial series: 65 years and older, Age 18+ who live in long-term care settings, Age 18+ who have underlying medical conditions, Age 18+ who work or live in high-risk settings." For those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, booster shots are also recommended for those who are 18 and older and who were vaccinated two or more months ago. It also allows for a "mix-and-match" strategy allowing individuals to pick which vaccine they receive as a booster. You can find more information here on boosters, including eligibility

Here is an infographic from the New Jersey Department of Health for a guide to vaccine eligibility.


House Calls Chemical Safety Board Chairwoman Lemos to Account

This past May, WEC and our allies sent a letter to Congressman Frank Pallone Jr., D-6th District, and Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, expressing concerns about the Chemical Safety Board’s (CSB) ability to fulfill its mission. The letter cited an unprecedented backlog of ongoing investigations, rumored coordination with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency during an investigation, understaffing, and vacant Board positions. 

On September 29, the US House Energy and Commerce oversight subcommittee held a hearing to discuss the CSB’s performance. Chairperson Katherine Lemos, the only Board member of the five person Presidentially appointed Board, testified. View the hearing here.  

In his opening statement, Congressman Pallone cited the CSB’s vital role to investigate chemical accidents and make recommendations to prevent future ones. Pallone went on to say, "[The] CSB also plays an important strategic role in preventing future incidents in the face of climate change and extreme weather. Industrial facilities across the country are at increasing risk. You need to look no further than this most recent hurricane to see that.“ 

WEC thanks Congressman Pallone for keeping a close eye on the CSB and for holding this crucial oversight hearing.


PS: In April, President Biden nominated three new CSB Board members and on September 22, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee advanced their nominations to the full Senate for a vote. For the latest on the CSB, visit


Impacts of “Striketober”

2021, and this October more specifically, has seen an uprising of workers in a series of strikes, in a phenomenon dubbed “Striketober.” In fact, more workers have gone on strike in 2021 than in the past decade.

With John Deere equipment workers and Kellog’s workers joining the ranks, it’s apparent that workers have had enough, and are willing to fight back.

Todd Vachon, Director of the Labor Education Program at Rutgers University, puts it succinctly in this article from KWQC:

John Deere is a very profitable company. They’re making lots of money. They can afford to give raises, you know, really good raises to the workers but they’re just choosing internally how to distribute their revenue and their profits, and by giving lots of it to folks like the CEO and to the shareholders and through stock buybacks.” he said, “That money is going away. That money is going to Wall Street right. It’s a lot better for the local economy if that money goes into the pockets of the local workforce, where they’re going to spend the money right there in town.

At WEC, we're organizing for democratic control over our state's investments, to proliferate worker democracy and equity! Click here to learn more.


WEC's Executive Director Receives Eula Bingham Award from APHA

On October  27, the American Public Health Association awarded WEC’s own Executive Director, Debra Coyle, with the Eula Bingham Award for Excellence in OHS Education and Training for her efforts to protect workers during the pandemic.

In particular for her work on the Saving Lives, Protecting Workers weekly webinar series which ran from March 2020 through April 2021. The hour-long webinars provided the latest COVID-19 information from national and state experts and provided a space to hear from frontline workers, union representatives and community members. In total, Debra and team developed and produced 46 webinars with more than 100 presenters and 4,710 participants in attendance.

In addition, Debra also contributed to state and national COVID-19 reports and with partners in the Coalition to Protect NJ Workers won the Workers Protection Executive Order which mandated employers implement key COVID-19 protections for workers. 

WEC congratulates all the APHA 2021 Award winners. Read more about the honorees here. 


OSHA Threatens Action Against States Not Enforcing ETS

On October 22, the U.S. Department of Labor announced its intentions to revoke state plan status in South Carolina, Utah and Arizona for failing to enforce the COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) for healthcare workers. Twenty-two states across the country have state-based OSHA programs and are legally required to have those state plans be at least as effective as federal OSHA. When Arizona, South Carolina, and Utah failed to implement the ETS, they failed to meet their legal requirements. This means OSHA may take over certain aspects of enforcing workplace safety plans. Stay tuned.


U.S. EPA Funding Needed for Healthier Schools

WEC is working with the national Coalition for Healthier Schools to urge Congress to increase funding for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Healthy Schools and Children’s Health programs.

Earlier this year, the House Committee approved $50M over ten years for the US EPA to address school indoor air pollution, and another $50M on toxics at school. However, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee made no provision for the EPA to provide guidance and support for school climate resiliency and mitigation work. This falls far short of the $75 million needed annually.   

EPA is the only federal agency with authorizations, expert staff, and a 25 year history of success in helping schools and their communities with indoor air, ventilation, and toxics with a proven array of voluntary healthy schools guidance and programs.


“A healthy environment is a fundamental step forward to begin to close the gap on education inequality. That is why we are demanding bold action by our leaders. In NJ, schools were closed recently due to damage sustained by Hurricane Ida. Seventy-two percent of those were in low- income districts. We need healthier and more resilient schools." Debra Coyle, Executive Director at the Work Environment Council

WEC and our partners will continue to demand EPA funding to achieve healthy indoor environments in schools and childcare facilities.


WEC Trainings

Thursday, November 4, 12:00pm - 2:00pm - Violence Prevention Training. 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.  Click here for more information.

Monday, November 8, 10:00am - 12:30pm - Preventing Exposure to Workplace Chemicals. 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. Join us as we discuss OSHA's HazCom standard and assessing chemical hazards and understanding safety data sheets. Click here for more information.


WEC is a 2021 Susan Hardwood Grantee!

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has awarded WEC with a targeted topic Susan Harwood grant on Preventing Workplace Violence.

Often overshadowed by other aspects of the pandemic, COVID has exacerbated violence in the workplace. Our workplace violence prevention training helps both employers and employees utilize systems of safety to identify compliance failures in the workplace to address workplace violence, in accordance with OSHA and New Jersey state regulations.

WEC was also awarded a Susan Harwood Training Program America Rescue Plan Act of 2021 grant on mitigating COVID-19 and other infectious diseases in the workplace.

For more information or to schedule a training contact Cecelia Leto at


WEC & Rutgers LEARN Mini-Series Recap

  • On September 28, OSHA Region 2 Representatives educated us on the ETS for Healthcare Workers.
  • On October 5, Allen Barkkume, WEC Industrial Hygienist consultant, provided information on the basics of indoor air quality requirements to mitigate COVID-19.
  • On October 12, Asbury Park’s former Mayor, Myra Campbell, and Rutgers Global Health Institute Director Richard Marlink and Manager Arpita Jindani, shared their experiences about local community efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • On October 19, Debbie Berkowitz, former Program Director of Worker Health and Safety of the National Employment Law Project discussed what a new OSHA COVID-19 vaccine and testing ETA may include and Marina Jabsky, Industrial Hygienist for NYCOSH, reviewed the requirements of the New York Hero Act.
  • October 26, Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, Co-Executive Director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, shared breaking news on the Senate confirmation of Doug Parker as the new chief of OSHA and Dr. David Adinaro, Deputy Commissioner for Public Health Services, New Jersey Department of Health updated us on the newest C.D.C. recommendations for vaccine boosters.

Click here to review recaps from each episode.

Join us for upcoming episodes on Tuesday's at 12pm (We are taking next Tuesday, Nov 2 off for Election Day.)


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

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