Toxics Campaign Advocates Tell Their Stories

Today we’re starting a new blog series to share some stories of advocates in our toxics and environmental health campaigns. We’re going to feature their bios, including what they do, how they got involved, and why this work so important to them. We hope this will help show a personal side to the many faces representing the coalition. If you’re interested in sharing your story, please contact us at info@healthytomorrow.org.

Our first story comes from Steve Gauthier, who has been involved with the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow since its inception.

Here’s what Steve had to say:

I have been a machinist by trade for the last thirty years in the manufacturing sector. I became involved with health and safety through an occupational illness that I contracted working with metalworking fluids. I had contact dermatitis on my hands that was so bad that if I shook someone’s hand the skin would literally peel off. This led me to start thinking about occupational hazards and I started doing my own research on the ways in which these manufacturing processes can be safer for workers.

Over the years I got involved in all kinds of labor and environmental groups from the local level to the federal level, giving presentations and providing training about safer manufacturing processes and chemicals. I got involved with the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow because I saw the relation between creating a safer environment and protecting the health and safety of workers. I have been on their labor advisory committee to advocate for safer chemicals.

Through working in coalitions such as the Blue-Green Alliance, I have dedicated a lot of my work to bringing together labor groups and environmentalists, so that they can define and achieve their common goals. As an elected health and safety representative of IUE-CWA Local 201, I have worked with management to drastically reduce workplace injuries and illnesses. I was also elected to the Board of Director for Voluntary Protection Programs Participants Association (VPPPA). Being elected to these positions has meant a lot to me, because you know that people have a certain amount of faith in you and you feel a responsibility to them.

I understand that the world cannot be risk-free, but I know that there are safer alternatives to many toxic technologies and products in use today. Integrating occupational and environmental health protection into Toxics Use Reduction, and adopting the Safer Alternatives Bill can have a tremendous impact on all of us.