On September 20th, the Warehouse Worker Resource Center participated in an action in San Bernardino as part of the Global Climate Strike, a movement to address the worsening effects of climate change. The Global Climate Strike has been led by youth activists across the world with strikes being organized in 150 different countries. We worked within our coalition of organizations to plan San Bernardino’s climate strike: the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice, Inland Congregations United for Change, 350 Riverside, Sunrise IE, Teamsters Local 1932, Sierra Club’s My Generation Campaign, and Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice all helped to plan and participate. Our coalition understands the burdens that mounting amounts of pollution has forced on our communities. In a report put out by CCAEJ, they discuss an eight year study done by USC that found that children in the San Bernardino area have slower lung growth and the weakest lung capacity of all children studied throughout the state. With Amazon sitting as the largest private employer in the Inland Empire and 102 straight bad air days occurring in San Bernardino last summer, the strike and the location helped to amplify our message– our air is becoming increasingly unbreathable and corporations like Amazon are to blame.
The strike had our orgs and community members meet to rally together before marching to a nearby Amazon facility. There, youth community members spoke about how they’ve experienced the impacts of the climate crisis. Many people spoke to how they’ve seen friends and family members suffer through lung disease and illnesses, revealing a grim reality: having trouble breathing, having conditions that disrupt your ability to breathe are commonplace in the Inland Empire.
“Muscoy in San Bernardino has hundreds of corporations coming through polluting and building warehouses next to homes and schools. They are using our communities for profit. We have seen tons of activity in pollution from gas and diesel coming in and out of our communities. This summer alone, we had 80 bad smoggy air days. Down the street, the San Bernardino Airport wants to expand which means more pollution from the trucks and planes. We don’t know if these jobs will be good for our community and this warehouse right here is owned by the same developer, Hillwood.”
“The very industry that’s harming our environment and our health is the same industry that employs our family, friends, and fellow community members. And a lot of times, we feel these are the only jobs available to us.”
In planning the action, the coalition learned that the Amazon facility we would be marching to was temporarily closed due to retrofitting of the facility in order to install automation machinery. This served as a reminder of the cold truth of the impacts of Amazon’s obsession with streamlining efficient production lines– the need for human labor and people to fill those jobs will soon be obsolete if they are allowed to continue. As we continue to fight for sustainable solutions to the injustice we experience, we must remember that sustainability also means long-term commitments and security for workers and their families.
The testimonies that were given by the youth community members speak to how prevalent and invasive the problems stemming from warehouse development and air pollution have come to be. The turnout at San Bernardino’s Climate Strike point to the mounting urgency to address the climate crisis. Each warehouse that is developed in our region without community collaboration poses a threat to our well being. In our work with our partners in the San Bernardino Airport Communities, we are fighting to put checks on the development of the Eastgate project at the San Bernardino International Airport through a community benefits agreement in order to preserve the health of our communities and mitigate the harmful impacts of the project on the environment. As we continue to fight for a more sustainable future, we work to build solutions that are community-derived and worker-centered.
You can learn how to become involved in the SB Airport Communities fight against the Eastgate project here: