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.

Alameda County Central Labor Council resolution on climate for the AFL-CIO convention

Submitted for consideration at the September meeting of the Alameda Labor Council and referral to the AFL-CIO Convention by Michael Eisenscher, Delegate, Peralta Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 1603 - Adopted unanimously by the Alameda Labor Council, September 11, 2017

WHEREAS, the overwhelming scientific consensus is that the climate warming trend over the past century is due to human activities, primarily due to our reliance on carbon-based fuels and deforestation that have caused a dramatic increase in the global level of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases; and

WHEREAS, burning most of the known fossil fuel reserves will cause global warming to reach catastrophic proportions resulting in sea level rise that will inundate major coastal cities, more severe prolonged droughts, frequent intense wildfires, destructive hurricanes, tornadoes and other “superstorms”, frequent destructive floods, reduced agricultural productivity resulting in food shortages and famine, the spread of vector-born and other diseases, and ever greater numbers of climate migrants and refugees; and

WHEREAS, the Trump Administration has promoted climate change denial, and has stated that the U.S. will “tear up” the Paris Climate Agreement and not implement the Obama Administration’s National Commitment to reduce emissions submitted to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), making it the only nation to withdraw among nearly two hundred that signed on; and

WHEREAS, the AFL-CIO opposes the Administration’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, on grounds that, “Pulling out of the Paris climate agreement is a decision to abandon a cleaner future powered by good jobs,” and has affirmed that, “The U.S. labor movement will continue to urge the United States to stay in the agreement so we can achieve the best outcomes for America’s workers”; and

WHEREAS, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) was successful in ensuring that “just transition of the workforce” was addressed in the preface to the Paris Agreement, which recognizes that the burden of climate-protecting policies and the transition to a sustainable energy economy should not be borne by workers and communities; and

WHEREAS, moving rapidly toward a sustainable economy and society, can—with the right policies in place—also be the source of large numbers of new, well-paid union jobs that will also reinvigorate local economies; and

WHEREAS, proliferation of fracking and the transportation of shale oil and gas have inflicted serious harm on the health and quality of life of communities located close to blasting and drilling sites, “petcoke” piles and other toxic residues and pollutants, particularly First Nations whose sovereignty rights have been routinely violated, and other communities of color, low-income and other working class communities historically dependent on and exposed to the impacts of fossil fuel extraction; and

WHEREAS, we will solve the climate crisis and the inequality crisis only when we put unions and working people at the center of the movements for economic justice and climate justice; and

WHEREAS, the market will not produce the transformation to renewable energy in a short enough time period to prevent the catastrophic effects of global warming and climate change; and

WHEREAS, the chaotic state of liberalized for-profit energy markets has pitted utilities against renewable energy concerns, produced a situation that is unsustainable and untenable, and led to the loss of thousands of jobs in the power generation sector (particularly in coal) without provisions made to protect impacted workers and communities; and

WHEREAS, the scale of the energy transition that is needed requires an approach comparable to that pursued by the Rural Electrification Administration launched in1935 during the New Deal, where publicly-driven electrification generated jobs, public utilities, and distribution cooperatives on a mass scale; and

WHEREAS, public transit systems are under attack, public health services lack sufficient resources, and public infrastructure has been neglected and is in need of comprehensive upgrades, repairs and replacement; and

WHEREAS, a variety of policy tools should be available to move rapidly toward renewable energy while providing well-paid stable jobs, income protection, and retraining for workers and communities adversely affected; these policy tools should include but are not limited to:

  • (a) a progressive tax on carbon pollution with the revenue used to support the income, retraining, and provision of new jobs for workers and communities hurt by the transition and those that have historically borne the brunt of pollution from these facilities;
  • (b) policies referenced in the Clean Energy Worker Just Transition Act, and the “100 By 50” Act which seeks to move towards 100% renewable energy by 2050 while providing for protection for workers and communities affected by the transition, and also providing for card check and first contract arbitration, lowering barriers that make it difficult to organize workers into unions;
  • (c) expansion of public and social ownership of and control over power generation, transmission and distribution;
  • THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the AFL-CIO reaffirms its support for the Paris Agreement as an important, though non-binding contribution to driving a rapid and managed just transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy that leaves most of the known fossil fuel reserves in the ground; and

RESOLVED, that the AFL-CIO will continue to work with the ITUC and the international labor movement as a whole to raise the level of ambition of the National Contributions to the Paris Agreement, including the U.S. contribution, in order to be consistent with the temperature threshold target agreed in Paris of “well below 2 degrees Celsius”; and

RESOLVED, that the AFL-CIO will develop an energy transition policy that recognizes the imperative of a massive scale up of renewable power, upgrading grid systems, promoting energy conservation and efficiency, in a manner that is also consistent with “well below 2 degrees Celsius” and which provides a just transition for affected workers and communities; and

RESOLVED, that the AFL-CIO will publicly campaign to re-regulate and/or reclaim to the public the electricity sector in order both to facilitate the creation of good stable family wage jobs in the U.S., and to carry out the transition to renewable energy generation at the speed and scale required to at least achieve the Paris targets; and

RESOLVED, that the AFL-CIO will campaign for domestic content requirements for all commitments of public funds to renewable power generation, electricity grid upgrades, efficiency retrofits, and other elements of a transition to renewable energy; and

RESOLVED, that the AFL-CIO will support legislation that provides strong protection for workers and communities that are adversely affected by the transition away from fossil fuels, including such examples as the “Clean Energy Worker Just Transition Act” and the “100 By 50 Act”; and

RESOLVED, that the AFL-CIO supports the demands of frontline communities for environmental justice, including access to newly created jobs in the renewable energy sector; and

FINALLY RESOLVED, that the AFL-CIO will work to inform and mobilize union members and their families with other social forces in support of legislation that furthers these goals, and will support candidates for office who are committed to them.

Fritz Edler on Green Unionism

We depend on immigrants to feed us; and then blame them

By Jim Goodman - Capital Times, May 8, 2017

Resentment of immigrants in America probably began in 1492 when European explorers began the process of taming the wilderness in this “newly discovered” land. The Americans who were living here at the time always knew exactly where they were and, I am sure, had a decidedly different view of who needed taming.

Immigrant resentment has progressed ever since, with different ethnic groups targeted in different times for different reasons. Currently, Hispanics are targeted because they supposedly take our jobs and Muslims are targeted because many people cannot accept diversity.

Without a doubt, immigration issues affected the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. The “big, beautiful” border wall, immigrants stealing American jobs, immigrant crime (immigrant crime rates are actually lower than the general population’s rate) — these lies had their intended effect.

Perhaps the current, intense resentment of immigrants began in the late 1980s when, as the U.S. economy faltered, Mexican immigration to the U.S. was increasing. The passage of the North American Free Trade agreement in 1993 and the subsequent dumping of subsidized U.S. corn into Mexico further hastened the migration of Mexican farmers to the U.S.

I remember driving in Phoenix Arizona, in 2006, a time when immigration had again become a hot button issue. I noted the Hispanic workers paving streets, building houses, working on power lines, mowing lawns, working in stores and restaurants — and wondered who would take care of these Arizonians if the immigrants were deported?

During this current wave of immigrant hatred, I again wonder: Who will do the work if immigrants are deported? The dairy industry is built on the shift to fewer and larger farms that depend on low-wage immigrants to produce the cheap food Americans demand.

People ask, “Why don’t farmers just pay more and hire American workers?” Wouldn’t this eliminate the need for immigrant workers?

It’s not that simple.

‘I closed my eyes and waited for the bullet’

By Thumeka Magwangqana and Primrose Sonti - Open Democracy, August 16, 2017

Five years ago today, 34 mine workers were shot dead in South Africa during a bitter dispute with British firm Lonmin. Today their community is taking their demands for accountability to the firm’s HQ.

In August 2012, mine workers at British company Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine in South Africa went on strike to demand the living wage. In the week leading up to 16 August, the workers tried to access the managers’ offices but they were pushed back by security. This was where the battle began.

Pushed back from the managers’ offices, the mine workers decided to go to the koppie, a small mountain near Lonmin’s mine, outside the company’s premises. They were there for a few days waiting for management to reply to their demands, and the rest of us in the community were not allowed to go near them. Every day when the men came down from that mountain, we asked them to tell us what was going on. Ten people were killed between 12 – 14 August, including two police officers.

We watched what was happening on TV constantly and in the afternoon of 15 August, we saw a crowd of people. Horses and police officers were growing in number on the koppie and, as women and leaders of the community, we were very upset. We were waiting for good news, for the management to make good decisions.

Early in the morning of 16 August, we saw the barbed wire encircling the koppie and we knew that people there were going to die. We collected the women of the community and, as leaders, we said that we should go straight to Lonmin management and tell them that if they didn’t want to give the mine workers the extra money, then it was better that we take them home because the situation had become so bad.

We collected the women and when we met near the mountain, we were too late. We heard the bullets, and then the ambulances.

Thirty-four mine workers were shot dead.

We couldn’t get there afterwards, there was a large crowd and we were told not go there, that it was very hectic. We turned back and didn’t sleep that night. Early in the morning, we went to see the police at the koppie and were fighting with them, trying everything. Then we cried.

We went to the police stations and hospitals to look for the missing. We were looking for a guy that was staying in the yard of one of our houses. He didn’t come back and we weren’t sure if he died or was in hospital or jail.

Naomi Klein: We Are Seeing the Shock Doctrine in Effect After Hurricanes Harvey & Irma

Naomi Klein interviewed by Amy Goodman - Democracy Now!, September 18, 2017

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. Increasing climate chaos has driven a number of celebrities to warn of the dangers of global warming. Tuesday night’s "Hand in Hand" hurricane relief telethon kicked off with a message from Stevie Wonder, who called out climate deniers ahead of a rendition of the classic song "Stand By Me."

STEVIE WONDER: As we should begin to love and value our planet, and anyone who believes that there is no such thing as global warming must be blind or unintelligent.

AMY GOODMAN: The music legend Beyoncé also called out the effects of climate change during the "Hand in Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Relief" telethon.

BEYONCÉ: The effects of climate change are playing out around the world every day. Just this past week, we’ve seen devastation from the monsoon in India, an 8.1 earthquake in Mexico and multiple catastrophic hurricanes. Irma alone has left a trail of death and destruction from the Caribbean to Florida to Southern United States. We have to be prepared for what comes next. So, tonight, we come together in a collective effort to raise our voices, to help our communities, to lift our spirits and heal.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Beyoncé. And we’re spending the hour with Naomi Klein, author of the new book No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need. The book just became a finalist for a National Book Award, or Naomi did. So you have Beyoncé, Naomi. You’ve got Stevie Wonder weighing in. But you have the networks, not—I’m not even talking about Fox—MSNBC and CNN hardly mentioning the word "climate change" when it comes to these horrific events, when they are spending 24 hours a day on these—this climate chaos. One of your latest pieces, "Season of Smoke: In a Summer of Wildfires and Hurricanes, My Son Asks 'Why Is Everything Going Wrong?'" well, CNN and and MSNBC aren’t letting him know. But what about not only what President Trump is saying, but this lack of coverage of this issue, and also the lack of coverage of the connections between this terrible—these hurricanes, past and the coming ones, with the fires, the storms, the droughts, and what’s happening in the rest of the world, which make the number of deaths in this country pale by comparison—1,300 in South Asia now from floods?

NAOMI KLEIN: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm, and Nigeria. And I think this really is the moment to explain the connections between these events, because what climate scientists have been warning us about for decades is that a warmer world is an extreme world. It’s a world of extremes that is sort of ricocheting between too much and not enough, right? Too much precipitation, these extreme precipitation events, not just rain, but also snow—you know, if you remember these bizarre storms in Boston, where you’ll have these winters with very little snow, but then you’ll have these massive snow dumps—and then not enough, not enough water, and those conditions creating the perfect conditions for wildfires to burn out of control, right? But fire is a normal part of the forest cycle, but what we are seeing is above and beyond that, which is why we’re seeing record-breaking fires, largest fire ever recorded within the limits of the city of Los Angeles, for instance, a plume of smoke that a couple of weeks ago reached from the Pacific to the Atlantic, the entire continent covered in this plume of smoke, which didn’t receive that much coverage, because it happened as Irma was bearing down on Florida.

So, this is the extreme world—we’re catching a glimpse of it—that we’ve been warned about. And we hear this phrase, "the new normal." And it’s a little bit misleading, because I don’t think there is a normal. You know, it’s precisely the unpredictability that we have to understand. And I think what a warmer world means is that there are, you know, fewer and fewer breaks between the extreme events.

Autonomy in Tampa, Solidarity in Immokalee: Love Letter to the Future

By Mutual Aid Disaster Relief - It's Going Down, September 17, 2017

Thankfully, Tampa did not get “punched in the face” as much as anticipated. Still, if you are in the Tampa Bay area and need medical assistance or food/water/debris cleanup, or want to act in solidarity with your neighbors, or both! you can come to 5107 N. Central Ave, right next to St. Paul Lutheran Church. We are facilitating debris cleanup crews, providing first aid, engaging in mobile supplies distribution and more. We have cut down trees, removed debris, comforted neighbors, bought life saving medications, cleaned out fridges, put a family that didn’t have one up in a safe home. No Bureaucracy. No red tape. In St Pete, community-based relief efforts are coalescing at St Pete Community Acupuncture.  And similar efforts are underway throughout Florida. If you are coming from out of the area, you are welcome at these locations, but know that Tampa itself is back to “normal” for most of its residents – very far from an apocalyptic atmosphere. But we are using the Tampa convergence center to do relief efforts throughout the state focusing on harder hit, historically marginalized communities, including migrant farmworker and indigenous communities.

The Mutual Aid Disaster Relief convergence center in Tampa is growing by the hour. The first aid station has grown into a wellness center, including acupuncture, trauma counseling, peer support, herbal medics, and other alternative medicine modalities. Local community members know to drop off hurricane supplies that they didn’t need. Community members also know to come here if supplies are needed. And that these supplies can be received with dignity. Here, there are no powerful givers of aid and powerless receivers of aid. We are undermining that dynamic in a process that contributes to the liberation and consciousness-raising of everybody involved. Mobile distros base out of the space, channel their inner Robin Hood, and reach across Florida with supplies, especially to historically marginalized communities. We have funneled over 10 tons of food, water, diapers, and other supplies to hard-hit Immokalee, FL. a migrant farmworker town.

In Immokalee, we are working at the request of and in solidarity with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a human rights, farmworker justice movement with deep roots in the community. Immokalee expects to be without power for weeks to come and food in the city is scarce. Other needs are self-standing already functional photovoltaic solar arrays, solar generators, other solar equipment, phone battery packs, large tarps, screening for windows, bug spray, mobile kitchens, and medics to staff the first aid station we constructed. In Tampa, we have partnered with Tampa Black Lives Matter, Tampa Food Not Bombs, Love Has No Borders, Islamic Relief, Suncoast Antifa, Tampa DSA, The Refuge, Tampa Bay Dream Defenders, Organize Now, POCA Clinics, Hillsborough Community Protection Coalition, and many other organizations with decades of community organizing experience in the Tampa Bay area to not only effectively and efficiently address the disaster of Irma, but also the ongoing disasters of social and economic inequality. Speaking of which, anti-refugee Floridians who crossed the border into other states to escape disaster: think about what this would be like if we weren’t allowed access to safety. That is a reality for many trying to flee war, natural disaster, and poverty. Borders are violent.

The Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons goes International!

By FightToxicPrisons.org - Earth First! Newswire, September 16, 2017

We’re Hitting the Road with the U.K. “End Toxic Prisons” Tour. Check out dates and details below.

This Autumn, the Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons will be touring the UK with Community Action on Prison Expansion.

All over the world prisons are toxic environments causing social and ecological harm. Folks from the US have been organizing resistance at the intersection of mass incarceration and the environment, successfully delaying the only current Federal prison construction for over 2 years!

Through grassroots organizing, advocacy and direct action they have been challenging the prison system which is putting prisoners at risk of dangerous environmental conditions, as well as impacting surrounding communities and ecosystems by their construction and operation. Learn about their strategy and tactics, as well as broader struggles of prison abolition, anti-racism, and environmental justice.

Information will then be shared about resistance to the six new mega-prisons in England and Wales, which themselves are proposed for toxic sites, including radiological contamination and asbestos pollution, as well as habitat destruction at every site. Learn how you can get involved!

Community Resistance in the South is Throwing a Major Wrench in Pipeline Plans

By Skyler Simmons - Earth First! Newswire, September 15, 2017

In the past week the West Virginia Department of Environmental Quality announced that it is rescinding the water quality permit for the Mountain Valley Pipeline to be built through their state, while North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper just announced that his DEQ will be delaying a decision on granting water quality permits for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline until December.

While neither of these decisions are the final death blow for these destructive pipeline projects, they do represent major victories for the grassroots efforts throughout the South to fight dirty energy projects. It is important to understand that these decisions did not come out of the goodness of the hearts of state governments. They came because strong social movements have forced them to do so.

These decisions came as activists coordinated multiple protests in VA and NC against the piplelines. In VA, protests were held at every Department of Environmental Quality office in the state, culminating in a blockade of the DEQ headquarters in Richmond resulting in 19 arrests. Meanwhile in NC, a group of activists are conducting a two week long fast in front of the DEQ headquarters in Raleigh and held a large rally on Sept 20th. A solidarity rally was also held at the DEQ office in Asheville, NC, the second protest there against the ACP  in a month.

Back in VA landowners along the Mountain Valley Pipeline route have been successful in using direct action to repeatedly keep pipeline surveyors off their land. Despite dirty tricks by the survey company, community members have been able to come together to block the paths of the surveyors, causing costly delays for the pipeline builders.

Both the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines would bring massive amounts of fracked gas from West Virginia into Virginia, with the ACP continuing into North Carolina. If built, the pipelines would result in greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to building dozens of new coal plants, or adding millions of new cars to the road. These pipelines aren’t dead yet, but if strong community organizing and direct action continue, they are likely not long for this world.

Transforming Society as Capitalism Crumbles: Lessons from Brazil’s Peasant Movement

By Rafael Soriano and Débora Nunes - In These Times, September 14, 2017

Brazil is facing a profound political and economic crisis since a coup d’etat overturned Dilma Roussef’s government in March of 2016. The new government is unrolling austerity policies that are eroding working families’ political gains by dismantling labor protections and social services and unleashing human rights abuses, including escalating assassinations of peasants and indigenous people. This political context—which shares characteristics with the U.S. climate under Donald Trump—is defined by a crisis of capitalism that resurfaced with the economic meltdown in the Global North that was initiated in 2008. 

Rafael Soriano, a member of MST’s Communications Collective, discussed this political climate with Débora Nunes, member of the National Directory of Brazil’s Landless Workers Movement, or Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra, widely known by its Portuguese acronym MST. This social movement of peasants, rural workers and landless families reclaims land rights and struggles for a genuine agrarian reform that would benefit all Brazilians—and strives for deep social and political transformation.

In this interview, Nunes reflects on the danger and potential of this current moment, highlighting opportunities to build alternatives to capitalism as the current economic system flounders. Nunes underscores that people in Brazil “have great challenges to face the coup and its consequences,” and it is necessary to “better communicate and organize the masses."

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