Climate change and environmental justice are issues for UDW members

July 20, 2021

Put simply, UDW members and our families live in communities that are at the greatest danger from the effects of climate change and pollution. For example, climate change is leading to longer, more severe droughts which in turn lead to deadlier wildfires like that one that displaced hundreds of our members in Butte County in 2018. And did you know that oil and gas extraction is usually located near low-income communities? Our members in Kern County, where most of California’s oil and gas wells are, breathe some of the most polluted air in the United States.

The connection between a labor union like UDW and climate justice is clear: Changes to the environment, including pollution, poor air and water quality and rising sea levels, affect working people and people of color more than anyone else. The facts of climate inequality:

  • Environmental changes cause and worsen serious health problems such as asthma, COPD, lead poisoning and depression
  • The people in our care are more vulnerable to these threats than the general public
  • Air and water quality are lower in poor communities and communities of color
  • Toxic waste sites are usually located near poor communities and communities of color
  • Wealthy communities are more able to advocate for themselves and move environmental hazards out of their own neighborhoods
  • Extreme weather—like fires, droughts, floods and hurricanes—caused by climate change are more likely to cause injuries, death and catastrophic property loss in low-income areas
  • This year, UDW has increased our commitment to fighting environmental injustices in California and joined together with 18 other labor unions to launch the California Climate Jobs Plan, which seeks to transition oil and gas jobs into clean energy jobs.

This plan helps UDW in its mission to protect those in our care and better the lives of home care and child care providers, our families and our communities—where we work and where we live. Environmental justice means standing up for the rights of our members and our clients to live healthy lives.

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