Campaign targets Sematech for Toxic Reducation Research

April 1991; page 5; Volume 2, No. 5

The Campaign for Responsible Technology (CRT) is a network of activists from various backgrounds - organized labor, the environment movement, technological research, and occupational health - concerned with the impact (present and projected) of high technology on the environment, on the health of workers in the high-tech industry and on the economy. CRT members are primarily from the areas in the U.S. where the microelectronics industry is concentrated. Members of the Campaign have been active in the labor-environmental movement in California's Silicon Valley and have extensively researched the effects of toxic solvents used in the microelectronics industry. The campaign's general goal is to hold the high-tech industry accountable to the communities in which they opreate and to their workers, who face grave health risks from exposure to toxic solvents.

In Austin, the CRT is concentrating its effort on the Sematech consortium. Sematech receives much of its funding from the federal government and has a $100 million per year taxpayer subsidy; it should therefore be responsive to the needs and concerns of the public.

In its privileged position as a competitive firm with public funding, Sematech has special resources that could be channeled toward the development of new technologies and processes that would be less dependent on toxic chemicals. Sematech could also lead the way in introducing safety procedures for microelectronic workers, who currently suffer a high rate of occupational illness. An advisory board on health and environmental issues comprised of representatives from labor, local neighborhoods and environmental groups could be formed to ensure community input.

Long-term reform of this kind cannot be realized at Sematech or at any of the other high-tech firms in Austin unless there is a strong grassroots movement to hold these companies accountable to a coherent health and environmental policy.

To this end, the Campaign for Responsible Technology will hold a workshop on the threats posed at our communities by the solvents used by Sematech, followed by an open discussion of how we can organize on this issue. The workshop date is tentatively set for Thursday evening, May 18 and will be held at the Montopolis Community Center or another location near Sematech. For more information on the Campaign for Responsible Technology, its local work and the coming workshop, please contact Susanna Almanza at [phone number truncated].

UT Watch Note: In the early 90s, People Organized for the Defense of Earth and her Resources (PODER), an Austin-based and grassroots environmental, economic, and social justice organization, grew out of the Sematech campaign.