Santa Clara Center for Occupational Health

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The Santa Clara Center for Occupational Health (SCCOSH) grew from the efforts of three women's health and labor rights organizers - Robin Baker, Amanda Hawes, and Pat Lamborn, who had come to focus on the Silicon Valley's largely unrepresented working-class minorities in the late 1970s. The three met sometime in 1977 at the Pacific Studies Center in Mountain View, where a small group had been meeting intermittently to discuss occupational health. Not long after, Baker, Hawes, and Lamborn together applied for and received a workers training grant from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which they used to fund the Project on Health and Safety in Electronics (PHASE) 1978-1980.

During the three years covered by the initial federal grant, PHASE produced a series of occupational hazards factsheets for electronics workers. First introduced in 1979, the program also included a multilingual telephone consultation service for electronics workers. While not a program to organize workers, PHASE efforts to raise awareness of occupational hazards resulted in open conflict with many Silicon Valley electronics companies. In 1979 the three women established a sister group to PHASE, the Electronics Committee on Safety and Health (ECOSH), to undertake more direct worker organizing while PHASE remained focused on voluntary educational programming. SCCOSH became the overarching agency for these two groups, PHASE and ECOSH, formally established on July 19, 1979, with a five-member Governing Board of Robin Baker, Amanda Hawes, Pat Lamborn, Mark Fee, and Andy Rowland. SCCOSH expanded its governing board to seven members in 1980, and again to nine members in 1981.

In April of 1979, PHASE employees began staffing an "Electronics Hazard" telephone hotline for workers concerned about chemicals encountered in the workplace. In addition to chemicals encountered in industrial occupations, SCCOSH outreach addressed potential health hazards for office laborers, including the combined psychological and physiological effects of working for long periods at video display terminals (VDTs, or computer monitors).

The Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition (SVTC) developed from a SCCOSH project into a wide-ranging, independent nonprofit organization. Ted Smith (1945-), attorney and activist founded the SVTC in 1982 in response to the suspicion that leaks at manufacturing sites for IBM and Fairchild Electronics were causing health issues in nearby Silicon Valley homes. The SVTC is a San José, California-based research and advocacy group that promotes safe environmental practices in the high tech industry. SVTC is composed of high tech workers, community members, law enforcement, emergency workers and environmentalists. They aim to educate the masses on best practices for computer recycling and promote corporate social responsibility on subjects ranging from nanotechnology, solar, and consumer e-waste.

Smith is currently the Senior Strategist of SVTC, and is co-founder and coordinator of the International Campaign for Responsible Technology (ICRT), and international network committed to the development of sustainable and non-polluting technologies. He also serves as the steering committee chair of the Computer TakeBack Campaign, an organization focused on promoting life-cycle producer responsibility in high-tech electronics. He co-edited the book Challenging The Chip: Labor Rights and Environmental Justice in the Global Electronics Industry (2006). Smith has been recognized by the Dalai Lama for his environmental leadership.

From the description of Santa Clara Center for Occupational Health (SCCOSH) and Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition (SVTC) collection, 1976-2002 (bulk 1982-1995) (San Jose Public Library). WorldCat record id: 756714915

Role Title Holding Repository
Place Name Admin Code Country
California--Santa Clara Valley (Santa Clara County)
Electronic industries
Employee rights
Environmental justice
Industrial hygiene

Corporate Body

Active 1976

Active 2002

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Ark ID: w6mq0h2r

SNAC ID: 45144219