A growing convergence between climate protection and worker justice is embodied in a new report from Warehouse Workers for Justice titled “For Good Jobs and Clean Air: How a Just Transition to Zero Emission Vehicles Can Transform Warehousing.”
Warehouse Workers for Justice (WWJ) is a worker center founded in 2008 to win “stable, living wage jobs with dignity” for the hundreds of thousands of workers in Illinois’ logistics and distribution industry. WWJ “provides workshops about workplace rights, unites warehouse workers to defend their rights on the job, builds community support for the struggles of warehouse workers and fights for public and private policies that promote full-time work at decent wages in the warehouse industry.”
The new report, which includes both scientific information and vivid accounts by warehouse workers themselves, documents the toxic, diesel-driven air quality, public health, and labor impacts of warehousing at the nation’s largest inland port, Will County, IL. Its findings were generated by community-driven air quality monitoring, truck counting, and interviews.
The report finds that through environmental racism and poor labor standards, companies like Amazon put their predominantly Black and Latine workers at a “double jeopardy” of exploitation on the shop floor and toxic air pollution in the community.
The report shows that the transition to electric trucks creates an opportunity to uplift labor standards for warehouse workers and truckers while mitigating diesel-related public health crises — but only if the shift to EVs adequately prioritizes workers and residents.
Read the full report here.