We were founded in 1979 by labor, environmental, and public health activists. The founding conference of over 300 people was organized to raise public awareness about toxic exposures and illnesses at Love Canal and at the Goodyear plant in Niagara Falls, NY. Over the past 34 years, WNYCOSH has built a membership base of labor union locals, health & safety activists, as well as many public health and legal professionals and individuals interested in occupational safety and health issues. WNYCOSH has empowered hundreds of thousands of workers including young workers, refugee and immigrant workers, low-wage workers and workers in high hazard industries through direct training to identify, evaluate and control hazards in the workplace.
We’ve helped build local, state and national coalitions such as the Coalition for Economic Justice, NYS Labor-Environment Network, WNY Fair Trade Coalition, OSHA-Environmental Network and the NYS Zero Lift Task Force to protect, as well as secure, important new labor and workplace safety and health standards.
WNYCOSH led a coalition of area labor unions, environmental and community groups to fight for passage of this important legislation. Working with the Western NY legislative delegation to sponsor the bipartisan bill, WNYCOSH built a grassroots statewide network and media campaign to secure its passage. With the passage of the Right-to-Know Law, workers were afforded the right to request information from their employers about hazards and health effects of workplace chemicals. This state bill became a model bill for other states and eventually for the federal government’s Hazard Communication Standard.
WNYCOSH and its partnering organization, the Coalition for Economic Justice, developed a youth leadership training project for high school students, the Western New York Sweatshop Awareness Project (WNYSAP). This project empowered area high school students to raise awareness in their schools about the global economy and the need for workplace and environmental standards, including a basic understanding of the issues facing workers around the world.
WNYCOSH has operated an occupational and environmental safety and health training center since 1980. WNYCOSH has obtained grants from the NYS DOL Hazard Abatement Board, OSHA, EPA, Public Welfare Foundation, the NYS Legislature and the United Way among others, to provide direct training, education and technical assistance to thousands workers in Western New York.
We continue today as a fully staffed organization with a membership of union locals, health and legal professionals, individuals and volunteers. Our mission is to create a healthy and safe workplace by improving the working conditions of all workers.