We Support of Workers of Color at Tesla

We support workers who are speaking out against racist workplace practices at the Tesla facility in Buffalo, NY. Tesla Gigafactory 2 is operating today because of a massive investment of public money. Tesla was given $750 million in taxpayer money to build it’s solar production facility located in Buffalo, New York, totaling 1.5x more than the entire City of Buffalo’s annual budget.

Employee’s recent statements document racist favoritism and racist harassment in the plant including instances of racially coded language and slurs. Highly qualified employees of color are routinely overlooked for opportunities and promotions, while white employees who are unqualified, including those with documented histories of racist harassment in the workplace, are being advanced along to supervisory positions.

The experiences of Buffalo workers mirror experiences across the country. Workers in Tesla’s Fremont facility reported threats, racist graffiti, humiliation and barriers to employment. Elon Musk’s previous response to the widespread racist abuse across his facilities was to write a company-wide email suggesting employees “not to be huge jerks” while also blaming victims, urging them to “be thick-skinned” and “accept apologies.” This strategy of denial and minimization of harm is used to avoid responsibility and justifies future violence. This failure to acknowledge the real problem of rampant racism in the workplace, or offer any meaningful support or recourse to employees of color, is unacceptable.

We commend the courage of workers to come forward and expose Tesla’s discriminatory practices. We know that exploitation, institutional racism, and job abuses are maintained by political and corporate structures that preserve power and wealth for select few. Public money should not be allowed to subsidies businesses that promote a culture of white supremacy.

Tesla needs to acknowledge the workplace culture of racism and discrimination, end the abuse, and repair the harm done, to workers of color in their facilities. We call on New York State and the Federal Government to hold Tesla accountable.

Clean Air Coalition of WNY


Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition

 Fossil Free Tompkins County 

The Canadian Union for Public Employees

The Labor Institute

The Labor Network for Sustainability

Metro Justice

Movement Generation

New York City Democratic Socialists of America

New York State United Nurses

Progressive Workers’ Union Executive Committee

PUSH Buffalo 

Reverend George Nicholas, Buffalo, NY

Sane Energy Project

Sierra Club Niagara Group


Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ)

Sunrise Movement



Tonawanda Tomorrow Progress Update Meeting!

The Tonawanda Tomorrow Plan, which launched out of our Just Transition campaign to grow the town’s economy after the impact of the Huntley Power Plant closure, was the result of thousands of community members, labor leaders, and Town of Tonawanda representatives

The plan was adopted by the Town in 2017, with a number of organizations taking on exciting projects and next steps to create an economically and environmentally sustainable future for Tonawanda residents.

Next Tuesday, October 15th, we’ll be meeting with representatives from organizations who made commitments to the plan, to hear first-hand from local decision makers about what progress has been made so far, and what the next steps are for implementation.

Join us on Tuesday, October 15th, from 6-7:30pm for a community meeting at American Legion – Brounshidle Post #2, 3354 Delaware Avenue in Kenmore.

We’ll have snacks, and childcare is available.

If you need childcare, please RSVP to Clean Air at 716-852-3813, by this Friday, October 11.


Are You Tired of Corporations Poisoning Our Neighborhoods?

The  City of Buffalo is home to many neighborhoods who are bearing the brunt of environmental pollution. Landfills, chemical plants, waste transfer facilities, are all located in communities that have been historically left out of decision making, and cut out of systems of power and wealth.

Over the last 10 years, Clean Air members have fought back and won tremendous victories. We’ve built power, organized, and dramatically reduced toxins in neighborhoods throughout Western New York.

It’s time to explore what we want to build next. 

Join us and our members on Peabody St. in Seneca Babcock to see what could be possible in 2020. Come to our neighborhood meeting on Wednesday, September 25th from 6-7:30pm at the Seneca Babcock Community Center (1168 Seneca Street, Buffalo 14210). Snacks will be available. To request childcare call Rebecca at 716-852-3813 by September 20th.

For a brief history of Environmental Justice, check out this short video by ProPublica. 


Tonawanda Summer Canvass!

We’ve got a lot going on this summer at Clean Air!

Join us door knocking to build our base and build power to win environmental justice in Western New York!

No experience canvassing needed, just a love (or like) of talking to new people, and a few hours over the next few weeks.

Our canvass days are…

Thursday, August 22nd 4-6pm USW Local 135, Sheridan Dr. Tonawanda

Thursday, August 26th 4-6pm All Saints Church 127 Chadduck Ave, Buffalo

Saturday, August 31st 9:30-1pm Brighton Place Library, 999 Brighton Rd, Tonawanda

Thursday, September 5th 4-6pm Sheridan Parkside Community Center, 169 Sheridan Parkside Dr. Tonawanda, Community Room 113

Interested? Email Rebecca@cacwny.org for more information and meet up location. Or call 716-852-3813.

Clean Air Finance Training!


Are you a member of Clean Air who wants to learn how your membership dues are spent?

Do you want to know how to read nonprofit financial statements and make assessments about an organization?

When you hear the term “projected cash flow” do you get really energized but not know why?

Are you on a nonprofit board and find that only one person asks all of the finance questions…you have no idea what they are asking, and their term expires in 4 months?

Do you love good snacks and the team at Clean Air and want to play a few games about nonprofit finance?

Then this training is for you!

Join us on Tuesday September 17th from 5:30-7pm at 394 Franklin St. Buffalo, NY 14202.

This training is open to current Clean Air members, donors, board members, organizational partners and staff.

Refreshments will be provided.
Childcare is available if requested by September 1st.

Questions or to RSVP, contact Rebecca@cacwny.org or call 716-852-3813.

The Future of Tonawanda Coke

The Tonawanda Coke Corporation operated a coke manufacturing facility at 3875 River Road Tonawanda, New York since the late 1970’s.  For decades, Tonawanda Coke caused tremendous quality of life issues in the community including air and water pollution, workers’ safety and health issues, employee fatalities, and now a legacy of contamination. Tonawanda Coke purchased the site from Honeywell, formally Allied Chemical, in the late 70’s, Honeywell is responsible for a portion of legacy waste on this site.

In New York State, there are two major pathways to remediate contaminated sites, the New York State Brownfields program or the Superfund Program. There are many distinctions between these programs. One major difference is who pays for cleanup.

The NYS Brownfields process allows developers to voluntarily initiate a plan for remediation, and be rewarded with tax credits to lessen the burden of cost.

The Federal Superfund Program; a robust, enforcement program designed to remediate large, extremely toxic sites. Under this designation, the Environmental Protection Agency has the legal authority to begin remediation and pay for the cleanup by recovering costs through the responsibly party.

The conflict over which designation arose when  Honeywell hired e3communications earlier this year for $3,750 per month and began reaching out to community members, environmental organizations, and elected officials to push for the Brownfield designation. See the recent article in the Tonawanda Bee.

According to Channel 2 News, Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, said his office has had conversations with Honeywell representatives about the future of the property. Over the past two years, Higgins has become one of the top recipients of campaign donations from a political action committee affiliated with Honeywell, which had been loaning Tonawanda Coke money.

In late April, Higgins told News 4 Investigates that he supported a brownfield designation for the Tonawanda Coke property. But a week later, Higgins changed his position. Watch the story here.

Download (PDF, 209KB)

“This is not even a close call,” said Judith Enck former Regional Administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency making the case for a Superfund designation, to The Buffalo News on May 31, 2019.

In a May 31st statement to The Buffalo News, John Morris, Honeywell’s Global Remediation Director, went on record to say The federal Superfund program is a more robust legal program. We don’t take issue with those people who say, ‘Hey, that’s a much stronger program.” Honeywell is responsible for large portion of legacy waste at the Tonawanda Coke site, operating the company until the late 70’s under their predecessor Allied Chemical.

Honeywell has a history of conflict with Tonawanda Coke regarding the company’s responsibility for cleanup. In 2015, Tonawanda Coke sued Honeywell for portion of legacy cleanup costs due to conditions of their purchase agreement. Then, in 2017, Honeywell loaned Tonawanda Coke nearly 8M to go towards criminal fines and remediation costs. Tonawanda Coke offered the mortgage of the property as collateral.

Honeywell’s Track Record and Profitability

Nationally, Honeywell has a long list of environmental, safety and health, and labor violations. Based in New Jersey, Honeywell is multinational conglomerate company that makes a variety products, provides engineering services and aerospace systems for private consumers to major corporations and governments.

Since 2000, at least 67 environmental enforcement actions have been brought against Honeywell, resulting in over $100 Million in fines.  Honeywell has a criminal track record of violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), including a felony offense for knowingly storing hazardous waste without a permit, putting employees and the community at risk of exposure to radioactive and hazardous materials in Benton, Illinois.

Honeywell has also been penalized over $55M for over 50 labor safety and health violations. In Honeywell’s Baton Rouge plant, Honeywell was found guilty in criminal court in the death of 32 year old worker Delvin Henry after he opened a mislabeled cylinder and suffered third degree burns. He died the next day.

Despite the millions of dollars in penalties and lawsuits, Honeywell still remains highly profitable. According to the Honeywell 2019 Proxy Statement and Notice of Annual Meeting of Shareholders, Darius Adamczyk, Honeywell’s CEO, total compensation was $19,246,604 in 2018.  In 2018, Honeywell ranked 77th in the Fortune 500, making it one of the wealthiest corporations in the world.

It would take the average worker in Erie County 8.5 lifetimes to earn what CEO Adamczyk earns in one year.

In addition to executive compensation, Honeywell also spends a tremendous amount of money on lobby firms and political contributions. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Honeywell spent over $6M through Political Action Committees (PACs) to political candidates in the 2018 election, including at least $159,923 to candidates in New York State. Honeywell International routinely spends close to $7 million each year on federal lobbying efforts.

The Current State of the Tonawanda Coke Site

In the fall of 2018, the Tonawanda Coke found guilty of violating their criminal probation related to a 2014 criminal sentence. Shortly after this verdict, the company’s leadership filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to reorganize their assets. The company ceased operations at the facility on October 14, 2018 and permanently vacated the site.

Currently, the US Environmental Protection Agency is using its short-term authority under the Federal Superfund Program to stabilize the site and conduct initial assessments.  A long-term remedial response is needed to ensure our health of residents living in the surrounding neighborhoods.

To learn more or get involved in this campaign, contact Rebecca at 852-3813 or at Rebecca@cacwny.org.

Remediation Begins at East Delavan Properties Site

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has begun remediation on a portion of the former American Axle site in the Delavan Grider community in Buffalo. Watch coverage on Channel 2 News.

The site at 1001 East Delavan Ave. is one of almost 400 contaminated sites in New York State that contain PCBs. PCB’s reference a group of chemicals called polychlorinated biphenyls. PCB’s were used widely in electrical equipment like capacitors and transformers. PCB’s were banned by the Federal Government in 1979 due to the connections to cancer, liver damage and nerve problems. Once in the environment, PCBs can be transported long distances and they bind strongly to soil and sediment.

Download (PDF, 235KB)

In 1991, GM reported a spill to the DEC that led to the discovery of PCBs in oil beneath one of its manufacturing buildings. Three years later, GM found PCBs had leaked into a brick sewer line beneath the facility that feeds into Scajaquada Creek when the system is swamped by rain. According to state documents, up to 110,000 gallons of legacy wastes exists beneath the site. GM sold the site to American Axle in 1994, who manufactured automobile parts before declaring bankruptcy in 2009.

Developer Jon Williams, and East Delavan Properties purchased the contaminated property in 2008, beginning a tug of war with state officials on who was responsible for site remediation.

Download (PDF, 218KB)

In addition to the legacy waste, 1001 East Delavan is also home to new industrial manufacturers: Galvstar, who makes specialized galvanized steel and Niagara Lubricants, a lubricant manufacturer specializing in industrial and wholesale lubricants. Ontario Specialty Contracting Group (OSC) Manufacturing & Equipment Services, also owned by Williams, is based on this site.

Resident’s joined with Clean Air Coalition in 2015 to escalate pressure to expedite remediation. The American Axle Steering Committee formed, made up of resident’s living closest to the site. Steering Committee members had numerous meetings with the state, property owner, the City of Buffalo, and the Western New York Legislative Delegation over the course of 3 years. By the fall of 2018, their work paid off and the NYDEC announced that remediation on a 5 acre portion of the site will be initiated through a Superfund enforcement action.

A Pump and Treat System was constructed and began to remediate contaminated groundwater in late April. This system focuses on 5 acres of the 40 acre site. Questions and concerns remain regarding remediation plans for the rest of the site.

If you live in the area and want to learn more about the pump and treat system, contact the NYSDEC and at 716-851-7000 and ask for Chad Staniszewski, Project Manager.

If you want to get involved in this campaign, contact Clean Air Organizer, Shontae Cannon-Buckley at 716-852-3813 extension 1.