ALR at the New York City Climate March

On September 21st, over 400,000 marchers, including many from labor unions, converged and marched together demanding environmental justice including international action to curb carbon and methane emissions and drawing attention to the impact of pollution and toxic waste on minorities and the poor, including low-wage workers.  Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies, the home base of the China Project was well represented at the march by faculty and staff.  Among the participants was ALR Extension Coordinator May Chen who sat down to answer some questions about the event.

Q: Why was the march in New York City?

A:  Every fall, the United Nations holds its annual meetings in New York City.  World leaders gather to deliberate current issues, including a Climate Summit which was held on September 23rd, two days after the march. The UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon participated in the march, together with many American political leaders, but most importantly, this was a "peoples march" with some 400,000 participants stressing the point that climate change and protecting the environment are important concerns to people all over the world.

Q: Why did you decide to attend the climate march?

A:  I live in a part of New York City, near Manhattan's Chinatown, that was impacted by "Superstorm Sandy" in 2012.  My apartment building lost electricity for a couple weeks.  Pollution and industrial waste are destroying our world.  I am very concerned about the extreme storms, floods and droughts we see everywhere and especially the devastation of poor communities.  My union friends were participating in the march, as well as my daughter and grand-children.  So my husband and I decided to join in!

Q: What union presence did you see during the march? 

A:  The march was notable for the number of unions that supported the climate cause.  Nearly every labor union in New York helped to mobilize their members to participate in the march because climate change affects everyone, and workers care about the world that we will leave for our children and grandchildren.  I was impressed to see so many young people, including young union members marching.  It was very well organized, united and positive...as well as HUGE and inspiring!

Q:  What was the most important impact of the march?

A: I believe a march like this is a very positive expression of solidarity for a worthwhile issue of concern.  It makes the public more aware of the climate issues and the problems of "global warming."  It organizes every-day people to send a message to political leaders to do more to protect our environment.  It's always expected to see university students in marches like this, and there were a lot of students and young people in the march.  In our day-to-day work, the Murphy Institute works to build solidarity among many diverse groups - students, faculty, workers, union members, men and women, old and young.  We were happy to see the march bring everyone together, and that’s why we think it was a great success!