Earned sick leave is coming to 1.2 million New Jersey workers! On May 2, 2018, Governor Phil Murphy signed a statewide law giving all New Jerseyans the right to earn paid leave. RFF was a major funder and collaborator on a strategy which methodically passed municipal sick leave laws in 14 of NJ’s largest cities, building up the pressure and support for a statewide standard. We extend our congratulations to our on-the-ground partners that made this victory possible, including the Time to Care Coalition, the New Jersey Working Families Alliance, and the Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy New Jersey
The New York Times reported that Boulder and San Miguel Counties and the city of Boulder in Colorado have filed lawsuits against Suncor Energy and Exxon Mobil seeking climate damages for a range of expenses already incurred and the future cost of necessary fortification of community infrastructure. Additionally, King County in Washington state recently commenced legal action against NP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell for climate damages. These communities join eight other jurisdictions in California and New York City that have filed similar lawsuits. If successful, the suits will require the companies to pay their fair share of the damages caused by the use of their products.
An op-ed in the Chronicle of Philanthropy reviewed the meager climate policy accomplishments achieved despite the massive amounts of foundation money spent to do so and the lack of public analysis about what went wrong. One exception noted was RFF's commissioning of a critical analysis to help explain why the Cap & Trade campaign failed, by Harvard Professor Theda Skocpol.
RFF's grantee, El Puente, has been at the center of critical relief efforts in Puerto Rico (see side bar news item). A recent Nonprofit Quarterly piece used El Puente as an example of positive change emerging from catastrophe thanks to the breadth of understanding and visionary roll that funders can play. RFF brought together experts and other nonprofits, notably the Institue for Energy Efficiency and Financial Analysis, to help make El Puente's sustainable energy and solar lighting initiative a success.
As repeatedly reported, Exxon deceived the public about climate science while funding a number of organizations to foment doubt about fossil fuel’s central role in the globe’s expanding climate crisis. The Rockefeller Family Fund funded both the investigative journalists at Columbia Journalism School and history of science professors at Harvard University who waded through the decades of deceptive conduct. This situation was not lost on a federal judge considering Exxon’s pending case against the New York and Massachusetts Attorneys General. As reported in a recent New York Magazine article on the Rockefeller family and Exxon, the judge had the following exchange with Exxon’s attorney:
“Didn’t Standard Oil grow up to be Exxon?” Caproni asked Justin Anderson, one of Exxon’s lawyers, after Anderson repeated Exxon’s conspiracy claim against the Rockefellers. “That’s ironic, don’t you think?”
“It’s disturbing, Judge,” Anderson said.
“No, it’s ironic — come on,” Caproni said.
“It could be both,” Anderson said. “Ironic and disturbing at the same time.”
“Fascinating,” Caproni said. “What happened to those Rockefellers?”
“Your Honor, what happened was they got on this bandwagon — ” Anderson said, before Caproni cut him off to interject: “They care whether subsequent Rockefellers can breathe.”
The Washington Center for Equitable Growth (WCEG), a RFF grantee, released their framing paper on gender wage inequality in time for Equal Pay Day 2018. Pay inequality leads to women making $799 billion less than men per year. This paper breaks down the causes of gender pay inequality and what policy solutions might help narrow the gap.
After Hurricane Maria destroyed the entire electric grid in Puerto Rico, El Puente jumped at the opportunity to organize the delivery of solar-powered generators, lanterns, and cell phone chargers to Puerto Rico. The goal was two-fold: to provide access to electric power and light and to pay the way to a green energy future as Puerto Rico rebuilds its electric power structure.
RFF's Rural Electric Co-op Democracy Project trained and deployed a group of carefully chosen Fellows and Mentors from Historically Black Colleges and Universities to reach out to members of the Black Warrior Rural Electric Co-op service district in Alabama. Although serving a largely African American population, the Co-op had only two African Americans on the board and an election had not been held in decades.The Fellows' goal was to inform co-op members of their right to vote in the Co-op election held in November. The outrage generated by an election that offered only one voting option--a "yes" vote for incumbent candidates--created a powerful incentive for three-busloads of co-op members to join the Black Warrior Democracy Campaign and blast the "new" board with withering questions.