In May, the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council passed a key resolution to KEEP THE LAW (SB1137) that prohibits toxic oil drilling within 3,200 feet of homes, schools, day care centers, parks, healthcare facilities and businesses in California. The resolution is a boost in solidarity with more than 200 community organizations, environmental groups, and elected officials in support of the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy California. Among major supporters, five statewide or western region unions, AFSCME CA PEOPLE, SEIU CA, California Federation of Teachers (CFT), United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Western States, and Communications Workers of America D-9, plus several important locals, United Teachers of Los Angeles, Unite HERE Local 11, and American Federation of Teachers (AFT) 152, want to keep the law. See the full list of supporters here. Of the resolution, Jim Miller, AFT Local 1931 Vice President, said,

As the founder of the Environmental Caucus of the San Diego Imperial Counties Labor Council, I am pleased that local labor is making efforts to show solidarity with environmental allies and communities of concern. In the end, the fight against climate catastrophe and the fight against our historic level of economic inequality are deeply interconnected. We can’t win one fight without engaging in the other.

The campaign website underscores the health impacts of drilling, cites research showing who is hurt most, and puts forward recommendations to keep Californians healthy and safe. It states,

Nearly 30,000 oil and gas wells in California sit within 3,200 feet of homes, schools, hospitals and other public areas, exposing nearly 3 million people, disproportionately communities of color, to emissions that can cause birth defects, respiratory illnesses and cancer. An independent scientific advisory panel in 2021 advised California officials that a 3,200-foot setback between oil wells and sensitive receptors is the minimum distance to protect public health.

The choice will ultimately be in the hands of voters come November. As an effort to keep the law that communities fought and won as a result of more than a decade of organizing and demanding healthy places to live, work and play, the ballot measure is an opportunity to unify efforts of environmental justice, environment and labor movements, and fend off corporate attacks on democracy.