Community Action and Response Against Toxics (CARAT) Team

National Director: Payton M. Wilkins

Many low-income communities and people of color suffer a disproportionate burden of environmental hazards. They suffer from various health problems associated with poor quality air, water and toxic exposure. Often, these communities are victims of environmental racism and the discriminatory enforcement of environmental laws and regulations. This exclusion from protection has resulted in high rates of disease, birth defects and sometimes early death in communities our labor members reside.

CBTU is part of the growing Environmental Justice movement that empowers community-based organizations to identify harmful or discriminatory conditions, mobilize their constituencies, and resolve local environmental health problems. In 1998, CBTU initiated an environmental action strategy. Several CBTU chapters have formed Community Action and Response Against Toxics (CARAT) teams, which — along with other safety and environmental allies — help to educate and monitor issues such as illegal waste dumping and hauling in poor communities.

The CARAT Team Program is hugely popular with CBTU members.

  • A national CARAT Team training program has been created.
  • CBTU members can receive Emergency Response training, Train-the Trainer instruction, and Advanced Technical Skills training.
  • Community toxics conferences have been held in several cities to raise awareness.
  • The national CARAT Toxic Awareness & Training Conference draws overflow attendance at the CBTU annual national convention.

Frequently asked questions about the C.A.R.A.T team program

Who makes up CARAT Teams?

The teams are comprised of trade unionists, Environmental Justice advocates, legislators, community members, scientists, and other persons interested in a collective environmental health protection effort.

What do CARAT Teams do?

  • Organize grassroots community rallies, marches, demonstrations, etc.
  • Serve as liaison between community-based minority groups and environmental advocacy organizations and agencies.
  • Assess the needs of the community and help propose solutions.
  • Refer environmental health issues to the appropriate agencies.
  • Meet regularly and submit activity reports to the CBTU leadership.
  • Organize mini-seminars on Environmental Justice issues.
  • Create Citizen Science Projects.v
  • Host Trainings for community and labor members.

How do CARAT Teams work with other Environmental Justice groups?

These teams collaborate with existing grassroots efforts to help coordinate and empower community-based organizations to raise awareness, mobilize their constituencies, and resolve environmental health problems. EJ groups also use our organization as a platform, and many times, as an example of the marriage between EJ and labor.

How can I form a CARAT Team in my city?

Contact the National Director at 202.854.0812

Which CBTU chapters currently host CARAT Teams?

  • Northern California
  • North Central New Jersey
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Jackson, Mississippi
  • Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Detroit, Michigan
  • Memphis, Tennessee
  • St. Louis, Missouri
  • Chicago, Illinois