Breathe At Your Own Risk: Transit Justice in West Harlem

12-1 Page 53 More than 15 years ago, community residents, ministers, and elected officials stood hand-in-hand with the newly-created West Harlem Environmental Action, Inc. (WE ACT) as we convened a press conference to offer a challenge to the most indifferent government entity in New York—the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA).


T Riders' Union: A Tale of Two Campaigns in Boston

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At the end of 2000, transit riders in Boston had launched the T Riders’ Union (TRU) and were celebrating their first victory—free system-wide bus transfers. Three years later, community advocates walked away from a three-year initiative to reform the Boston Metropolitan Transportation Organization (MPO), with little to show for their effort. These two campaigns have taught Alternatives for Community & Environment (ACE) and our community partners a lot about the opportunities and pitfalls in transit justice organizing and advocacy.

Launch of T Riders’ Union
Our story began with community concerns about asthma and air quality. In 1997, through ACE’s youth program, students at three schools targeted dirty diesel buses and trucks as an environmental injustice linked to the high rates of asthma in the community. Seventy-five youth marched in an Anti-Idling Day and handed out “tickets” to educate drivers about the state law limiting idling of engines. That same day, these youth joined with six other community and environmental groups to launch the Clean Buses for Boston coalition.

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Fact Sheet: Deadly Air Pollutants

Created in the atmosphere when oxides of nitrogen combine with reactive organic gases in the presence of sunlight. These reactive organic gases are primarily generated by auto emissions, but industrial emissions as well. Once in the lungs, ozone generates a free radical, an oxygen atom, that irritates lung tissue—causing or exacerbating asthma, emphysema, respiratory disease and, over time, reduced lung capacity. Animal studies also indicate that ozone either causes or exacerbates cancers.

Carbon Monoxide
Everyone knows carbon monoxide as a colorless, odorless gas that comes out of the tailpipes of cars which, by blocking the delivery of oxygen to the blood, can kill you. But carbon monoxide in smaller doses causes dizziness, impairs central nervous system functioning, deprives the heart muscles of oxygen—leading to heart attacks, and is also a reproductive toxin.

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Port Privatization in Central America

Photo Essay: Puerto Cortez, Honduras And Acajutla, El Salvador

12-1 Page 39 image 1 By David Bacon

Despite the poverty and difficult conditions that plague them, dock workers and port truckers in the Centra12-1 Page 40 image 1l American ports of Puerto Cortez and Acajutla have tried to form unions. Some have had success, while others have lost their jobs and been blacklisted. All worry that the Central American Free Trade Agreement will lead to privatization and attacks on their unions and income. This photo-documentary shows their conditions as they work or wait for work, and for their families at home.

Few of the privatization assaults in Central America have been as sustained and sharp as those against the longshore workers of El Salvador.

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