Welcome to the IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus

"Judi Bari did something that I believe is unparalleled in the history of the environmental movement. She is an Earth First! activist who took it upon herself to organize Georgia Pacific sawmill workers into the IWW…Well guess what friends, environmentalists and rank and file timber workers becoming allies is the most dangerous thing in the world to the timber industry!"

--Darryl Cherney, June 20, 1990.

Desertec: the renewable energy grab?

By Hamza Hamouchene - New Internationalist, March 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

If you use social media, you may well have seen a graphic going around, showing a tiny square in the Sahara desert with the caption: ‘This much solar power in the Sahara would provide enough energy for the whole world!’

Can this really be true? It’s based on data from a research thesis written by Nadine May in 2005 for the Technical University of Braunschweig in Germany.

According to May, an area of 3.49 million km² is potentially available for concentrating solar power (CSP) plants in the North African countries Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. She argues that an area of 254 kilometres x 254 kilometres (the biggest box on the image) would be enough to meet the total electricity demand of the world. The amount of electricity needed by the EU-25 states could be produced on an area of 110 kilometres x 110 kilometres (assuming solar collectors that could capture 100 per cent of the energy). A more realistic estimation by the Land Art Generator Initiative assumed a 20-per-cent capture rate and put forward an area approximately eight times bigger than the May study for meeting the world’s energy needs. Nevertheless, the map is a good illustration of the potential of solar power and how little space would be needed to power the entire planet.

This isn’t a new idea. Back in 1913, the American engineer Frank Shuman presented plans for the world’s first solar thermal power station to Egypt’s colonial elite, including the British consul-general Lord Kitchener. The power station would have pumped water from the Nile River to the adjacent fields where Egypt’s lucrative cotton crop was grown, but the outbreak of the First World War abruptly ended this dream.

The idea was explored again in the 1980s by German particle physicist Gerhard Knies, who was the first person to estimate how much solar energy was required to meet humanity’s demand for electricity. In 1986, in direct response to the Chernobyl nuclear accident, he arrived at the following remarkable conclusion: in just six hours, the world’s deserts receive more energy from the sun than humans consume in a year. These ideas laid the groundwork for Desertec.

EcoUnionist News #39

Compiled by x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, March 2, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

The following news items feature issues, discussions, campaigns, or information potentially relevant to green unionists:

Today in Green/Labor History: Earth First! activist and IWW organizer Judi Bari (b.1949) died on this date from cancer. Bari and her comrade Darryl Cherney survived a terrorist bomb in Oakland, CA, in 1990. The police and FBI immediately blamed her for the bombing, claiming that she was the terrorist and that the bomb was intended for the logging companies. She was arrested and handcuffed to her hospital bed. Bari and Cherney were eventually exonerated and won a hefty settlement for the FBI’s role in violating their civil liberties.

Lead Stories:

USW Refinery Workers Strike News:

Carbon Bubble:

Green Jobs and Just Transition:

Other News:

For more green news, please visit our news feeds section on ecology.iww.org; Twitter #IWWEUC

This is What Energy Democracy Looks Like

By Sean Sweeney - Trade Unions for Energy Democracy, February 25, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

With climate change looming, we are facing an energy emergency. How can unions fight for change?

Five reasons the IWW are challenging the culture of the UK Left (and why you should be too!)

By Chris W - New Syndicalist, February 25, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

We can’t put our faith in the ballot box

The recent election of SYRIZA in Greece has invested a lot of hope in the emergence of a popular anti-austerity front across Europe. However the deep resistance that SYRIZA are facing to even the modest social reforms they are proposing from their European partners gives an indication of the intrinsic limits of parliamentary action alone to wider, and particularly deeper, social change. That is not to say that there are no important lessons to be drawn from this situation. Part of SYRIZA’s success story is in the way in which it has effectively capitalised on political ground that has been largely conceded by the parties of the social democratic centre in their widespread commitment to “responsible” economic policies and continuing austerity. This is a situation repeated across many European democracies. The so-called PASOKification of the centre left (in the UK and particularly in Scotland) has left a certain degree of political space “up for the taking”. The recent explosion in Green Party membership in England and Wales fits this story nicely: some might even find themselves feeling optimistic about alternatives to the Political status quo. Nonetheless, we need to be hard-headed in how we deal with these recent trends.

Poverty, hopelessness and powerlessness have drawn many throughout Europe, including a considerable section of both our own and the Greek electorate, to the populist and far-right. Understanding why it was the left that triumphed recently requires more than looking to SYRIZA’s leadership and electoral strategies – we need to look at the way broader Greek anti-capitalist culture operates. For decades a vibrant network of extra-parliamentary parties, social movements and trade union groups have sustained the continuing case for basic social solidarity through the maintenance of left spaces, solidarity networks and other forms of community engagement. This genuinely life-sustaining work has highlighted the pragmatism of socialist ideas above the individualistic solutions offered by the far-right and pro-austerity left. The future of SYRIZA’s relation to these social and extra-parliamentary movements is very unclear at this stage. Similarly, but on a smaller scale, is it possible to understand the surge in SNP popularity following the independence referendum without also appreciating the explosion in grassroots activity that preceded it?

In England and Wales the outlook is even bleaker. Not only is the left generally lacking in the basic forms of outreach and engagement that has empowered our Greek and Scottish friends, but the electoral system is stacked against any chance of even a modest swing in electoral sentiment. Even if the Green Party was to mobilise an army of supporters comparable to that seen in the Scottish referendum the “breakthrough” would be underwhelming, at most a victory of a handful of parliamentary seats.

The splitting of the political centre ground, combined with the massive disenfranchisement brought about by austerity policies, leaves a great deal of potential for any movement offering real and practical non-parliamentary alternatives. As solidarity unionists we believe that grassroots engagement and direct action are not merely the means of realising that latent potential, they are the basis for the worker-run society we’re trying to build. Meaningful and lasting victories can be won through these activities in a number of highly adaptable and scalable forms – from the group of workmates who march on the boss to win back their tip jar to the occupied and collectivised factory employing thousands of workers, we’ve got a working model for building the society we want.

Food Justice and Worker Organization: An Interview with Luigi Rinaldi, Industrial Workers of the World

Interview with Luigi Rinaldi - Theory in Action, Vol. 7, No. 4, October 2014, reposted by Providence IWW

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Q: First off, thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview, Luigi. This issue of Theory in Action is centered on food justice and sustainability. For a lot of people, food justice cannot be coherently separated from the experiences of workers in the food industry and, I think, if we mean the term “sustainability” in its most widely applicable way, that also means looking at how people’s lives and livelihoods are made unsustainable by our dominant institutions. I know your union, the Industrial Workers of the World, over the last few years has had various campaigns in food service. Can you start by briefly outlining the economic situation of workers in the food industry? Why should people be concerned with the plight of food industry workers?

Luigi Rinaldi (LR): Thank you for the opportunity to talk about these issues! I would say that it is impossible to talk about food justice without touching on capitalism and, therefore, the class relation. Workers in the food industry, throughout the whole process – from farm to restaurant – are in a situation that leaves them extremely precarious. Now, I’m primarily going to focus on the food service end of things, because that’s the part of the industry I’ve worked in, but there’s a lot to be said for the production side and the supply chain as well. The work isn’t the same, but the conditions that it creates are similar.

What you have is a very precarious and low wage industry. You can expect to hold a job for less than a year and to earn less than ten dollars an hour. My previous workplace, a café and bakery, had about 90% turnover in a year… I would say that is low for most of the industry, especially when you get into fast food. Contrary to the popular image, most of these workers are not teenagers, but adults trying to eke out a living. They are fathers and mothers who often have to work two or three jobs, because in the food industry full time employment is rare, and even with full time employment the wages are too low to get by on. The work conditions are often unsanitary and you are subject to harsh and arbitrary discipline. There should be concern about this industry because it’s one of the fastest growing, at least here in the United States. It’s already one of the largest private sector employers and while job growth for the rest of the economy is around 1.5 or 2%, food service is growing at a rate nearly double that. The industry is expected to add 1.3 million jobs to the economy over the next decade. With the decline of many manufacturing and even professional jobs from our economy in the United States, look at where there’s job growth: that’s where you’ll be applying.

Banner action against Oslo Energy Forum

By Motmakt - February 19, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Today we, a group of autonomous environmental activists, hung a 40 square meter banner from the Holmenkollen ski jump to protest the Oslo Energy Forum. The forum is being held at Scandic Holmenkollen Hotel, which is located just a couple of hundred meters from the ski jump. There are two primary reasons for why we chose to thave our banner action at this location: Firstly, because it is a national landmark that lies in close proximity to the place where the forum is held, and secondly, because winter sports like skiing will be something only found in history books if the fossil fuel industry is allowed to continue its current levels of polluting.

The Oslo Energy Forum is a closed meeting space where CEOs of various petroleum companies, politicians and other hand-picked guests meet to discuss the future of energy production. Neither the media nor civil society organizations (such as environmental organisations) are granted access to the meetings. Thus the general public is left to speculate about what kind of agreements and dirty deals are made at the conference. For the most part, the identity of who will be attending is also kept in the dark. Of the few names that are made public are such powerful figures as Johannes Teyssen, the CEO of the German company E.ON which produces electricity through hazardous nuclear plants and the burning of coal, and the Norwegian prime minister Erna Solberg, who recently managed to change the definition of where the arctic ice cap starts, allowing petroleum companies to drill for oil further north than what was previously allowed. Wolfgang Ischinger, the ambassador for the Munich Security Conference, a forum where Western powers plan bombing raids against less powerful nations, is also present. We believe that when such people exchange ideas without any transparency, the outcome will be nothing good for our climate. The ideas and strategies that are likely to come out of the forum, are ones which will accelerate and worsen the current climate crises even more.

We believe that radical social change is inevitable, for future generations to have the opportunity to live their lives on anything resembling a planet worth living on. Capitalism is based on the absurd idea of unlimited economic growth, and seeks to achieve this through appealing to some of mankind’s worst traits, such as greed and a competitive mindset. Thus, capitalism will not be able to handle the task that is confronting us, and must be abolished for there to be any hope for a descent future for coming generations. In its place, we need to establish a social order based on humanism and solidarity. A social order where the economy is organized with the goal of fulfilling human needs, not for generating the highest possible profits for private holders of capital. A social order where everyone contributes based on their abilities and receives according to their needs. A social order that does not destroy our planet and the natural conditions for life itself.

We have no faith in being saved by politicians, capitalists or other parts of the elite. It is time we take the struggle for a decent future into our own hands. That´s why we declare:

Save the climate. Smash capitalism. Shut down the Oslo Energy Forum

EcoUnionist News #38

Compiled by x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, February 26, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

The following news items feature issues, discussions, campaigns, or information potentially relevant to green unionists:

Lead Stories:

USW Refinery Workers Strike News:

1267-Watch:

Carbon Bubble:

Green Jobs and Just Transition:

Other News:

For more green news, please visit our news feeds section on ecology.iww.org; Twitter #IWWEUC

EcoUnionist News #37

Compiled by x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, February 24, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

The following news items feature issues, discussions, campaigns, or information potentially relevant to green unionists:

Lead Stories:

USW Refinery Workers Strike News:

"We Just Come to Work Here; We Don't Come to Die":

1267-Watch:

Carbon Bubble:

Green Jobs and Just Transition:

Global Anti-Capitalism:

Other News:

For more green news, please visit our news feeds section on ecology.iww.org; Twitter #IWWEUC

Is Junipero Serra Just a Native Issue? No, it's also a LABOR issue

By Arthur J. Miller - IWW, February 22, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Though there are more than enough reasons to stand in solidarity with Native people on this issue, there is a lot more to it than just that. Those Native folks were workers and that was the real point in what Serra did, FREE LABOR, SLAVERY OF WORKERS! Just because a group of workers have a different skin color or culture does not make them any less workers as any other workers. So dear labor activists, is it OK to you that a group of workers are enslaved, murdered and exploited without pay? Or is it just OK because they look different than you? And the fact that the Pope and the Catholic how is making Serra into a saint sends a very clear message of what that church and the Pope are really at and that nothing has changed over the years. It speaks clearly that they do not support workers or their rights. This is not just about what was done long ago, but rather also what is being done right now! The Pope could not issue a more anti-labor statement than to make Serra a saint. I guess from the bosses point of view this is great because now they finally have one of their own to pray to.

There is a lot of information on this out there. And there are people trying to do something about it. We working folks need to support that. You will find a lot of information on my facebook page. There are some important events coming up and there needs to be labor support. So the question comes up again, is the labor movement just about some white agenda? Or does it include all workers even if they maybe different than you are?

just an old retired shipyard worker,
Arthur J Miller

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