This past weekend MG led a day-long exposure and solidarity bus tour to Kern County for rank-and-file workers, union organizers and labor leaders to learn about the devastating impacts of fracking on workers, communities, and the environment of the Central Valley, where 1,081 of the last 1,089 fracking wells in CA have been sited. MG is interesting in building solidarity between workers and fracking-impacted communities, who in the Central Valley are largely farm worker communities as well. The restoration of our labor and of our land are so deeply interlinked – the same corporations driving an economy that exploits workers and also (literally) dumping toxic chemicals in communities like those that we visited.
Through an impactful exchange, hosted by the Center on Race, Poverty, and the Environment – we got to visit:
- 40 Acres – the historic site of the home base of the United Food Workers during the farm workers movement. We heard history and walked the halls of buildings where Cesar Chavez participated in his first fasts, one of which was a fast to fight pesticide use in the farms where they worked.
- A site where fresh water and water polluted by oil companies converge. The largely unregulated mixed water is carried along 20+ miles of canals that feed agricultural farms (and eventually the food we eat)!
- Sequoia Elementary School, which has a fracking well RIGHT outside of the school’s boundaries. The well is in clear view of a playground where young children play every day. In fact, we heard stories of students complaining of head aches and other major illnesses. At the school we also learned of a report released last month that found that over 384,000 public students are exposed to fracking wells within 1.5 miles of their school.
We heard stories of community members, and shared wisdom and reflections as union members and organizers. It was a powerful trip, with hopefully more to come.
And on the heals of our trip, we came home to the incredible news that NY has banned fracking, citing public health impacts! Go NY!
- Stay tuned for info about a Bay Area report back in the new year!
- Many of us will be participating in the upcoming fracking action in Oakland on Feb 7th, 2015. Click here for more info.
Photos from our tour (taken by Michael Eisenscher):