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Updated: 6 days 23 hours ago

BREAKING: LNS Supports Tesla Workers

Fri, 12/14/2018 - 07:00


Tesla workers are taking the lead in ensuring that green jobs are good jobs and that the transition to a climate-safe economy can and must be good for workers. #WePowerBuffalo

#WePowerBuffalo

The Labor Network for Sustainability today hailed the workers who are organizing a union drive at the Tesla Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo, New York. LNS executive director Michael Leon Guerrero said, “Tesla workers are taking the lead in ensuring that green jobs are good jobs and that the transition to a climate-safe economy can and must be good for workers.”

The Tesla project received $750 million in taxpayer funding for its state-of-the-art solar production facility. New York State promised 1,460 “direct manufacturing jobs” in the high-unemployment area. However, Tesla job listings offer primarily entry-level positions with wages as low as $14 per hour and limited benefits. Tesla’s workers seek by forming a union to win wages that can support their families and provide job security, benefits, and other basic protections.

“We are hearing a lot about the need for a Green New Deal that will provide millions of good jobs helping protect the climate. These Tesla workers represent the Green New Deal in action,” said Michael.

LNS Organizer and former secretary-treasurer of the United Auto Workers Elizabeth Bunn, said: “Tesla workers are working to create a sustainable climate. They deserve the right to negotiate for sustainable wages and benefits.”

Union Pension Fund Divestment Webinar December 10

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 09:16


Pictured above: LNS Divest-Invest Committee Coordinaor Nancy Romer. Originally published in the September 14, 2018 edition of The New Yorker. Taken by Erik Mcgregor / Pacific Press / ZUMA

The Labor Network for Sustainability, Democratic Socialists of America and 350.org invite union members, labor organizers and divestment campaigners to a city and state divestment webinar on Dec 10 at 8pm ET. Please join us and circulate widely. Facebook event and advertising graphics coming later this week. https://actionnetwork.org/forms/pensiondivestmentwebinar

The Financial and Scientific Urgency for City and State Divestment: A Webinar

Join labor organizers, union members and campaigners at 8:00 PM, ET / 5:00 PM PT on Monday, Dec 10 in discussing the future of state and city divestment campaigns and the rationale and arguments for moving investments out of fossil fuels and into climate solutions.

What: The Financial and Scientific Urgency for City and State Divestment: A Webinar

When: 8:00 PM Eastern Time / 5:00 PM Pacific Time Monday, Dec 10

Where: RSVP and you will receive a Zoom link via email a few days before the webinar

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently reported that the global community has just 12 years to limit global warming to under 1.5 degrees, beyond which climate disasters will be magnified. Governments everywhere need to rapidly reduce fossil fuel use — and it’s up to all of us to apply the pressure necessary for cities, states and nations to take action.

Join us to learn more about how to advance divestment for your city and state pension and union funds. RSVP Now.

Northeast Regional Labor Convergence on Climate Change Displays Growing Size and Momentum of the Labor-Climate Movement

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 09:15


Pictured Above: Judy Sheridan Gonzalez, President, New York State Nurses Association, gives her remarks on Just Transition: Current Theories and Strategies.

by Todd Vachon, NE Convergence Steering Committee

On November 17, 2018 the Labor Network for Sustainability organized the Northeast Regional Labor Convergence on Climate Change. The convergence brought together over 90 labor leaders and allies from eight states across the northeast to discuss labor’s role in the urgently needed transition to a just and sustainable economy that both protects the climate as well as the lives and livelihoods of workers and frontline communities that are threatened by climate catastrophe. Co-sponsored by the Labor Education Action Research Network and the Rutgers AAUP-AFT, the day-long intensive strategy session was convened at the Labor Education Center at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Attendees included nurses, carpenters, electrical workers, teachers, communication workers, transportation workers, postal workers, food service workers, public employees, and service industry workers from over 20 different unions.


Pictured above: Geographic breakout sessions provided a forum for deeper discussions on how labor can engage union leaders and communities regarding transitioning to a climate safe economy.

The agenda for the day included an overview of the types of labor-climate campaigns that are underway in the northeast; a discussion about the need for a fair and just transition and what that might entail; and five workshops on important topics including: public ownership and control of the energy sector, carbon pricing, offshore wind, divest/invest campaigns, and current legislative proposals designed to mitigate the climate crisis. The day also included two sub-regional breakout sessions where attendees met with fellow labor-climate activists from their home states to share information, discuss opportunities for collaboration, and brainstorm ways that LNS can help those state and local-level campaigns flourish and win.


Pictured above: LNS Founding President Joe Uehlein gives opening remarks, stressing the urgency of acting now regarding labor and climate.

The Northeast Convergence was the second regional convergence organized by LNS this year and displayed the growing size and momentum of the labor-climate movement. The third national convergence will be held on June 28-30, 2019 in Chicago, IL. The purpose of the convergences is to encourage climate protection advocates to organize locally and nationally in their own unions; advocate for climate solidarity with workers around the world; build cooperation among climate protection advocates and caucuses in different unions; educate labor’s leadership and rank and file on the realities of climate change; transform the discourse and ultimately the policy of the labor movement; and inspire local labor unions and activists to engage with climate and climate justice organizations and activists in their own communities.

The latest IPCC Report and the U.S. Government’s own Fourth Climate Assessment released in November paint a bleak picture for the Earth and its inhabitants. The task ahead is enormous, but the struggle is more than worthy. Just ask yourself, what is more important than saving humanity? Alone, we feel powerless to affect the change that is needed to create a just and sustainable economy that works for all. But when we work together, there is no greater force beneath the sun. Let’s get back to work!

Transit Equity Day is Coming Save the Date – Take Action!

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 09:15

Monday, February 4, 2019

Last year, people took action in dozens of cities across the U.S. demanding that our local, state and federal governments make public transit accessible and affordable to all, create good jobs by expanding our public transit systems, and protect our health and climate by using renewable energy to power our buses and trains.

Join us again on February 4, 2019 for the Second Transit Equity Day

We choose February 4 as Transit Equity Day to honor Rosa Parks on her birthday. Her act of resistance by refusing to give up her seat on the bus in 1955 was a catalyst for the civil rights movement. It affirmed that everyone has the right to equal access to public transit.

Also, join us for a SOCIAL MEDIA DAY on DECEMBER 21 to honor the successful end to the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Stay tuned for more information on this.

Actions You Can Take on Transit Equity Day

We will send a link to an Organizing Toolkit soon!

Educate
  • Convene an educational event about public transit as a civil right and as a key strategy to confront climate change.
  • Wear a button or sticker to your workplace showing support for public transit as a civil right.
  • Get an op-ed published in your local newspaper.
Agitate
  • Organize a direct action to support a local campaign for quality public transit for all.
Organize
  • Get your union local, organization city council, transportation board and others to pass a resolution supporting public transportation as a civil right.
  • Get your union to establish a climate action committee.
For More Information Contact

transitequity@labor4sustainability.org

Sponsoring Organizations
  • Amalgamated Transit Union
  • Chainbreaker Collective, Santa Fe, NM
  • Institute for Policy Studies, Washington, DC
  • Labor Network for Sustainability
  • Labor Community Strategy Center, Los Angeles, CA
  • Music City Riders United/Workers’ Dignity, Nashville, TN
  • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
  • OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, Portland, OR
  • Partnership for Working Families
  • Pittsburghers for Public Transit, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Sierra Club

Sponsoring organizations contribute money, in-kind support to the national organizing effort or participate on the Planning Committee for Transit EquityDay.

Endorsing Organizations
  • 350.org
  • Colorado Interfaith Power and Light
  • Grassroots Global Justice Alliance
  • Greenpeace, USA
  • Jobs with Justice
  • Policy Link
  • The Leap

 

Connecticut Locks Up Transit Funding

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 09:14


PIctured from right: Speaking at podium, Mustafa Salahuddin, President of ATU Local 1336 and Connecticut Roundtable on Climate and Jobs board members Maisa Tisdale and John Humphries.

By John Humphries, Connecticut Roundtable on Climate and Jobs

One week before Election Day, Mustafa Salahuddin, President of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1336, spoke at a press conference alongside the Executive Director of Greater Bridgeport Transit, the employer of many of Local 1336’s members. They were joined by the Vice President of the Fairfield County Business Council, local State Representatives, and transit advocates.  And the Carpenters union brought the largest banner. This odd collection of allies and sometime adversaries came together at the instigation of the CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs to urge voters to support the ballot referendum creating a transportation revenue “lockbox.”

Since 2005, the Connecticut legislature has diverted more than $500 million from the Special Transportation Fund, which was established in 1984, one year after a 100-foot section of the northbound I-95 bridge over the Mianus River collapsed in the middle of the night.

At that time, Connecticut had just twelve engineers responsible for inspecting more than 3400 bridges. Today, more than 300 of the state’s bridges have been graded structurally deficient, and 41% of our state and local roads are rated in “poor condition.”  And last winter, the Governor responded to the projected bankruptcy of the Special Transportation Fund by threatening to suspend some $4 billion worth of construction projects and announced planned fare increases and service cuts for transit operations.

Since transportation is the source of more than 35% of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, the Roundtable has teamed up with ATU and other allies to advocate for expanding access to transit.


Pictured from left: John Harrity, LNS Board Member and Connecticut Roundtable on Climate and Jobs board members Maisa Tisdale, Guy West, Steve Schrag and John Humphries

Fortunately, a broad coalition of building trades unions, business groups, environmental organizations and transit advocacy groups joined forces in support of a constitutional amendment prohibiting the Special Transportation Fund from being used for any purpose other than transportation. After the legislature passed the measure two years in row, it was placed on the 2018 ballot.

Unlike Californians, residents of Connecticut are not very familiar with ballot measures. The last referendum was on the ballot in 2014. Despite polls showing broad support, that measure (which would have allowed early voting in elections) failed, largely because 15% of the people who voted for governor did not respond to the referendum question. And that “drop-off” rate was closer to 30% in urban areas.

So the critical challenge this fall was to ensure voters – and particularly urban voters – knew about the referendum and understood the importance of voting “Yes.” So ATU locals across the state distributed informational cards to bus riders, and the Roundtable helped enlist the participation of a diverse array of local and statewide groups to participate in the education and advocacy campaign.

At the press conference in Bridgeport, the Roundtable’s board chair John Harrity (who is also a member of the LNS board) spoke of the detrimental climate and health impacts of transportation emissions and the potential job creation from investing in our transportation infrastructure. John concluded with a call-to-action: “In the long run, it just may be that the most important vote we will cast on Election Day – will be on this question. Vote yes and help save the planet!”

And the voters heard the call. The measure passed by an overwhelming majority exceeding 85% of those who responded to the question. Now the Roundtable and its allies will have to work to ensure that the funding is used to expand access to transit.

 

Washington State Labor Federation President: “We must go all-in on clean energy to save our environment, our economy, our jobs — and our lives”

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 09:13

Jeff Johnson is President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, the largest labor organization in the Evergreen State, representing the interests of more than 600 local unions and 450,000 rank-and-file union members. 

“It’s a line in the sand and what it says to our species is that this is the moment and we must act now…” — Debra Roberts, co-chair of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

“Today the world’s leading scientific experts collectively reinforced what Mother Nature has made clear — that we need to undergo an urgent and rapid transformation to a global clean energy economy.” — Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore

“If the planet were a bank, we would have already saved it.”  — Clara, transit worker in Paris 2015


The following article originally appeared in The Stand on October 18, 2018 

(Oct. 18, 2018) —Over the past two weeks, two important reports on climate have come out. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a 500-page report. Buried deep in the report is a projection that temperatures will rise seven degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century. This is nearly four degrees Celsius, which would dramatically change life as we know it on Earth.

This level of global warming would create hundreds of millions of water and food refugees, create catastrophic sea level rise, create megastorms and droughts impacting the whole planet and cause the extinction of many species of life.

What has been the Trump administration’s plan of action in the face of such predictions?

  • Freeze the Obama administration’s plans on making cars more fuel efficient
  • Withdraw California’s ability to set their own carbon emission standards
  • Allow states to regulate their own coal power plant emissions
  • Relax requirements on how energy companies maintain and repair methane leaks
  • Open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling

Trump’s plan: double down on fossil fuel production and use.

The other report, released last week by the working group of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, noted that Earth’s temperature has already risen one degree Celsius since 1880 and its temperature may well increase another half a degree Celsius by the year 2030 — only 12 years from now.

This means we will be subject to even more severe storms, droughts, flooding, sea level rise, loss of lives, property, and jobs, and political and economic demands arising from forced migration around the world.

But the U.N. Report also is hopeful. While pointing out that keeping the planet at or below 1.5 degrees Celsius is essential and to be successful will require unprecedented shifts to renewable energy systems and transport, “it can be done within the laws of physics and chemistry.”

The question really is one of political will as well as will there be a “just” or an “unjust” transition.

Clara, the transit worker quoted at the top of this article, nailed it. There is no question that there is enough money to make the transition away from fossil fuels, and indeed hundreds of billions of dollars were spent bailing out the world financial system over the last decade at the expense of working people. Her question is, do we value the planet as much as we do the banks?

The leading scientists in the world are telling us that we need to stop arguing over what carbon policy is the best one or whether we get one more mile of highway funding tomorrow and instead go all-in for saving our planet, our economies, our jobs, and our lives.

Of course, how these decisions are made, and by whom, makes a difference. Any policy that significantly lowers carbon emissions, builds high-quality labor standards into renewable energy investments, and provides a “Just Transition” for workers and our communities should be supported.

We can, as Emperor Nero did, fiddle while Rome burns. Or we can accept the clarion call of Mother Earth – “save me to save yourselves.” Or we can sit by and watch her cull the herd.

Spanish Coal Miners Win a Just Transition

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 09:13

The Guardian reports:

Spain is to shut down most of its coalmines by the end of the year after government and unions struck a deal that will mean €250m (£221m) will be invested in mining regions over the next decade.

Unions hailed the mining deal – which covers Spain’s privately owned pits – as a model agreement. It mixes early retirement schemes for miners over 48, with environmental restoration work in pit communities and re-skilling schemes for cutting-edge green industries.

Montserrat Mir, the Spanish confederal secretary for the European Trades Union Congress, said the “just transition” model could be applied elsewhere.

“Spain can export this deal as an example of good practice,” she said. “We have shown that it’s possible to follow the Paris agreement without damage [to people’s livelihoods]. We don’t need to choose between a job and protecting the environment. It is possible to have both.”


Read the full Guardian article » 

Diablo Canyon Shutdown Protects Workers and Communities

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 09:12

by Erich Pica, Friends of the Earth

On September 20, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation implementing the final pieces of a deal to close the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant. The Bill ensures that these last nuclear reactors in California will be replaced with greenhouse gas free resources, including renewable energy, energy storage and energy efficiency. The law also mandates that the closure of the Diablo Canyon reactors will be accompanied by a $350 million employee retention program and a $85 million community impact mitigation program. In this way, the Bill is a new “green yardstick” for just transition that protects workers while still moving away from dirty and dangerous nuclear and fossil fuel power plants.

In June 2016, Friends of the Earth, labor unions and local communities negotiated an agreement in which PG&E renounced its plans to seek renewed operating licenses for Diablo Canyon’s two reactors and to replace it with renewable energy, efficiency and energy storage resources.

U.S. Economy Faces Hit from Climate Change

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 09:11

The New York Times reports:

A major scientific report issued by 13 federal agencies Friday presents the starkest warnings to date of the consequences of climate change for the United States, predicting that if significant steps are not taken to rein in global warming, the damage will knock as much as 10 percent off the size of the U.S. economy by century’s end.

The report puts the most precise price tags to date on the cost to the U.S. economy of projected climate impacts: $141 billion from heat-related deaths, $118 billion from sea level rise and $32 billion from infrastructure damage by the end of the century, among others.

Sources:

Jobs, Anyone?

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 09:10


According to the new IPCC report released October 8, the world will have to invest $3 trillion dollars a year to keep counter global warming. That’s an awful lot of jobs!

Sources:

Feeling Heat-Stressed-Out?

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 09:09

In a recent article on “Public Law and Climate Disasters,” Sidney Shapiro and Katherine Tracy conclude, “The health, safety, and economic risks to workers associated with climate change have not received the attention they deserve.” Rising temperatures associated with heat stress and other health and safety hazards are growing, but regulatory agencies, such as OSHA, have yet to respond.

The article appears as a chapter in Research Handbook on Climate Disaster Law: Barriers and Opportunities (Lyster & Verchick, eds., 2018).

Check out this podcast with Shapiro and Tracy about “Keeping Workers Safe in the Era of Climate Change.”

Public Citizen’s Worker Health and Safety Advocate Shanna Devine is developing a campaign for a national heat standard. Visit: http://www.citizen.org 

Twitter: @safeworkers

IPCC Report Demands Immediate Action and Workers must take the Lead

Mon, 10/29/2018 - 17:23


Graphic from IPCC’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C

By Todd Vachon

The latest report issued by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on October 8 is the starkest report to date on the real and immediate threat that global warming poses to human existence. The report finds that if greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) continue at the current rate, the atmosphere will warm by as much as 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius) above pre-industrial levels by 2040, submerging coastlines, intensifying droughts and wildfires, increasing the frequency and strength of extreme storms, and worsening food shortages and poverty. Perhaps the most attention-grabbing aspect of the report is that these dire consequences will come to pass well within the lifetime of much of the global population.

While similar warnings about the consequences of continued fossil fuel consumption have been issued in the past, efforts to cut carbon and other GHG emissions to a climate-safe level have been largely defeated in arenas ranging from the United Nations to the U.S. Congress. Corporations and other powerful political actors have been the dominant factors in this process, but many other people and institutions have pursued short-term self-interest at the expense of climate protection, often in pursuit of their own economic survival. For example, local communities and workers dependent on fossil fuel industries have campaigned to weaken climate protection legislation and block international climate agreements.

However, local communities and workers are also the primary victims of climate catastrophe as has been witnessed in the aftermath of Hurricane’s Katrina, Maria, and Harvey and Superstorm Sandy. In fact, the working class is always hit first and worst by climate change, particularly those who are already most hurt by our economic and political systems: women and people of color. It is for these reasons that some in the labor movement have been building an independent, working class climate movement that challenges the governments that permit climate destruction, the fossil fuel producing and using industries that conduct it, and the corporations and other institutions around the world that collude with it. These labor climate activists are promoting solutions.


Above: Madeline Evans of Henryville, Ind., walks the parking lot of her elementary school, March 3, 2012. The school and much of her town was devastated by a large tornado the day before. The Indiana National Guard activated more than 250 Soldiers from across the state to come to the aid of the community. (Indiana National Guard photo by Sgt. John Crosby). Used with permission by Creative Commons.

To be blunt, climate change poses an immediate existential threat to our species, to every individual, and to all that any of us hold dear. For this reason, protecting the earth’s climate is in the long-term interest of all humanity and we in labor, as the organized voice of the working class majority of the planet, must take a leading role in this struggle to put the interests of people before profits. It is to this end that the Labor Network for Sustainability (LNS) has been organizing a series of local and national “labor convergences” on climate around the country. Activists in Los Angeles met in July to strategize about ways to build the labor movement into a force for climate protection and justice. In the Northeast, labor-climate activists from Maryland to Maine will converge at the Labor Education Center at Rutgers University in November.

The Convergence will encourage climate protection advocates to organize locally and nationally in their own unions; encourage climate solidarity with workers around the world; build cooperation among climate protection advocates and caucuses in different unions; educate labor’s leadership and rank and file on the realities of climate change; transform the discourse and ultimately the policy of the labor movement; and bring local labor unions and activists into engagement with climate and climate justice organizations and activists in their own communities.

As workers and trade unionists, we can either initiate change or be the victims of it, or worse yet, suffer the consequences of inaction. We choose the former and thus resolve to use our power to reshape economic, political, and social systems in the interests of all the world’s people who are threatened by climate change.

Todd is a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Labor Studies and Employment Relations at Rutgers University, a member of the Rutgers AAUP-AFT and the UAW Local 1981, and also serves on the steering committee of the Labor Network for Sustainability’s (LNS) Labor Convergence on Climate. Todd’s opinion-editorial, “How workers, local unions can take the lead on climate change,” was recently published in New Jersey’s Star-Ledger. Read it here »

After Florence

Mon, 10/29/2018 - 17:17

Black Workers for Justice penned an inspired piece calling for action, optimisim and change in the upcoming election in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence. Full text below.

By Black Workers for Justice

“These are not natural disasters, they are the logical outcome of a society that believes some people and some places are expendable. They are the product of a broken political and economic system–an industrial growth society that has given rise to climate chaos and unspeakable suffering.” (NC Climate Justice Collective)

As we struggle to put our lives back together please consider these reflections:

The winds and rain of Hurricane Florence and then the floods have devastated our communities. We have had to leave our homes, many of which have been destroyed, as we suffer all of the pain of being displaced. Many are without food, water, necessary medications, and clothing. We have loss cherished family memories. But we have not loss our dignity.

Hog waste

As predicted by community and environmental justice organizations, numerous hog waste lagoons have been breached spreading toxic waste across our communities. Environmental racism is responsible for the harm the Pork Industry has done eastern North Carolina Communities. Smithfield Foods must be held accountable for their failure to guarantee safe waste systems on the farms that they contract with. And we must come to the aid of the community members and activist who have long been defending the community against this harm.

Coal ash

The N.C. communities that had been endangered by Duke Energy dumping its coal ash warned against the dangers of these 50 poison ponds. The flood waters after Florence have resulted in two of these pits leaking arsenic, mercury, lead and more into the Neuse and Cape Fear Rivers. Duke Energy said we are safe. We don’t believe them.

There is no dispute that global warming is responsible for the nature and frequency of these recent hurricanes. The continued burning of coal will only worsen these conditions. Energy corporations like Duke and their backers in government must be stopped if we are to avoid continuous disasters. We cannot lose sight of this as we struggle to survive.

Elections

The elected officials in office now bear responsibility for these problems. As survivors and activists we have to hold them accountable.The massive displacement and necessary preoccupation with recovery will be used by the Legislature to further suppress the votes of people of color and poor people. We have to demand special measures for people to vote wherever they are.

Recovery policy by the state must not only include assistance with housing, cleanup, etc. but also must address the demands to end hog waste and coal ash crimes against the people.

Join the fight for a Just (as in justice) Florence Recovery!
Black Workers for Justice
blackworkersforjustice.com | bwfj@earthlink.net

Labor and Community Together on Storm Water Capture in Los Angeles

Mon, 10/29/2018 - 17:13

Above: LA County Federation of Labor President Rusty Hicks speaks in favor of improving LA’s storm water systems and committing funds to disadvantaged communities and ongoing maintenance to generate jobs and workforce training.

By Veronica Wilson
Recently, Los Angeles labor unions have put their weight behind Measure W for Safe, Clean Water on the November 6, 2018 local ballot. Measure W proposes a county-wide parcel tax of 2.5¢ per square foot of impermeable surface to raise an estimated $300M per year to invest in improving LA’s water systems, mainly, to better capture and manage stormwater and reduce urban runoff. The region, hot, dry and water-scarce, and unfit for accelerated population growth, has been challenged by water shortages for more than 100 years. Bloody disputes ensued as settlers constructed aqueducts that took water from California’s Eastern Sierras, and have since depleted the Owens Lake entirely and erased the Northern Paiute’s way of life. Today, two thirds of the region’s water are imported from the Owens Valley, Northern California, and the Colorado River.

Spearheaded by Los Angeles Alliance for A New Economy (LAANE) the Our Water LA coalition started with communities, advocacy groups, environmental, and environmental justice organizations. Unsafe drinking water, polluted waterways, deadly flood events, toxins and plastics washed into the Pacific Ocean and onto beaches were reasons for finding long-term solutions. In the most populous county (roughly 10 million) in the United States, public infrastructure projects would, for example, install permeable sidewalks and drainage swales in neighborhoods, design parks with water storage, and retrofit playgrounds. These solutions would not only improve the quality of life of residents by increasing access to clean, safe water, but also generate as many as 9,500 jobs, according to a study produced by LAANE.

At a hearing with the Los Angeles County Supervisors this summer, labor joined in to advocate for a prudent policy that understands water shortages, worsened by climate change, put firefighters in grave danger. Los Angeles County Fire Department Chief Daryl Osby noted “Climate change is real!” and extended periods of drought followed by a year of heavy rain have made wildfires more frequent, intense and urban-proximate, endangering the county’s population and his workforce. Executive Secretary of the Los Angeles/Orange County Building Trades Council Ron Miller specified the importance of sustainable water management and potential opportunities for Pipe Trades, Plumbers and Electrical workers. Among other labor representatives, LA County Federation of Labor President Rusty Hicks spoke in favor of improving LA’s storm water systems and that committing the funds to disadvantaged communities and to ongoing maintenance will generate jobs and workforce training where they are needed most.

Currently in campaign mode, LAANE organizers are conducting outreach and educational presentations to union locals throughout the region. As a ballot measure, W will be up to LA county voters. Resting in their hands is a choice to make stormwater capture and reducing runoff a priority for the people and the planet.

Veronica Wilson is an LNS member and consultant who most recently organized the first Los Angeles Labor Convergence on Climate Change.

Unions in Washington Fight to Become the First State in the Nation to Put a Price on Carbon

Mon, 10/29/2018 - 17:08

Retired refinery worker Steve Garey shares why he supports Washington State Ballot Inititiave 1631. Watch the video »

By Judy Twedt, Trustee UAW 4121 and Steering Committee Member, Yes on 1631

For over two years, unions across Washington State have been part of the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy. It’s an historically broad coalition of labor, environmental, health, business, faith, and social justice advocates coming together to build a more equitable, clean energy economy.

As we’re witnessing the clear-cutting of common sense environmental policies at the Federal level, states initiatives like this one in Washington offer hope for a more sustainable future.

The coalition aims to put a price on carbon — something no other state have done yet. Our ballot initiative 1631 imposes a fee on the states largest polluters. It starts at $15/ton and rises by $2/year, raising an estimated $1 billion annually to invest in clean energy, forest health, manufacturing, and good paying jobs built to last. There are also funds set aside to help others transition through job training and wage assistance as well as dedicated protections for workers to ensure their jobs stay in Washington. In addition, 35% of investments must be targeted to low income neighborhoods and communities of color to ensure that everyone has access to a cleaner, healthier future.

Our coalition faces opposition from big oil companies like Phillips 66 and BP, and the Koch Brothers, amassing over $21 million. Those are record-breaking contributions intended to maintain their control of the energy economy, and 99% is out-of state.

UAW 4121, the union of over 4,500 academic student employees at the university of Washington, is one of the unions on the Yes on 1631 steering committee. We know that the impacts of unchecked climate change will disproportionately impact young people, and are leading campus-wide voter registration and GOTV efforts to drive up student participation in this midterm election.

To learn more about the initiative, and how to help turn out the vote for this historically inclusive climate initiative, visit yeson1631.org. If your union can host a labor-to-labor phone banking event to help get-out-the-vote, email judytwedt@gmail.com.

About the Images
A 1631 campaign event hosted by UAW4121 and Green for All with guest speakers including CNN Commentator Van Jones, music artist Macklemore, and President of the Quinalt Nation Fawn Sharp.
Photos credits: Conor Courtney/The Daily (a UW students newspaper)

Labor Rises for Climate, Jobs & Justice in San Francisco on September 8th

Sun, 09/30/2018 - 21:48

By Michael Eisenscher, SolidarityINFOService

More than 700 trade unionists and other labor activists joined an estimated crowd of 30,000 people in San Francisco on September 8, 2018 to Rise for Climate, Jobs & Justice. They came from more than fifty labor organizations, including three labor councils (San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa counties).

The Labor Contingent, led by the ILWU Local 10 Drill Team, included a fire engine honoring first responders driven by members of Firefighters Local 798, which also served as a speakers platform for a pre-march labor rally that included Lizzy Tapia from Local 2 HERE, and John Avalos from NUHW, with labor songs led by Susan Peña and Kathe Burick, AFT locals 1481 and 2121, chants led by SEIU and AFSME members, and a skit performed by members of La Colectiva de Mujeres. Norman Ten, President of San Francisco APALA (Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance) led a unity chant in 4 languages. The Brass Liberation Orchestra provided the marching band.

Spotlight on IFPTE Local 21

Rudy Gonzalez, Exec. Dir. of the SF Labor Council, spoke for the labor participants at a pre-march press event.

One highlight of the day was creation of the largest street mural ever painted in the streets surrounding SF Civic Center in front of City Hall. Teams of artists outlined the murals in advance. Painting was completed by volunteers from among the marchers as they arrived in Civic Center from the march up Market Street from Embarcadero Plaza. One of the murals was created by the Labor Contingent.

What South Florida Workers Know about Climate Change

Sun, 09/30/2018 - 21:40

Photo: Taken Aug. 24, 1992, Harold Wilkins, 69, of Florida City walks through the rubble of what was once his home. Used with permission through Creative Commons, courtesy of Florida Memory.

Cynthia Hernandez, the Executive Director of the South Florida AFL-CIO, recently gave a presentation on South Florida unions initiative to address climate change to a LNS videoconference, Cynthia can be heard 14 minutes from start time.

Cynthia says, “Miami and South Florida are ground zero for sea level rise. Also for hurricanes. We also have a crippled infrastructure. We are the next Puerto Rico.”

In 2016, the AFL-CIO Labor Council in Miami realized:

we needed to have a conversation around the impact of climate change, not just on our members, but on our communities. So we realized that we could no longer ignore the fact that climate change is having an impact on all of us. We also wanted to get ahead of climate change policies and think about where new organizing opportunities were arising as a result of climate change.

So in 2017 the Council began to build “a labor and community coalition to address climate change,” to “find solutions through organizing campaigns and a policy lens to build worker power in South Florida.” The coalition included AFSCME Florida, SEIU, International Union of Operating Engineers, South Florida Building Trades, United Teachers of Dade, and community partners who were working on climate change.

Photo taken Oct. 24, 2005. A parking lot on board Naval Air Station Key West, Fla., is flooded after being hit by Hurricane Wilma. At 6:30 am EDT, Hurricane Wilma made landfall near Cape Romano, Florida as a Category 3 hurricane. Used with permission through Wikepedia Creative commons, courtesy of U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Cmdr. Brian Riley.

An important step was to conduct a survey of union members “to identify he most pressing climate issues their members were facing.”

View survey »

Here are a few important findings:

Workers who work outside “noticed that heat waves were getting hotter and hotter,” which was difficult “for someone who work long hours directly in the sun.”

For transit workers and others paid by the hour, “during natural disasters their hours were getting longer and longer,” but also “their work was being disrupted” so that “many of them would be unable to work, and therefore lose pay.

Longshore workers at the Port of Miami were without work at the Port of Miami during the last hurricane season because the Port was closed. After several days the Port was reopened, and workers were having to work longer hours to make up their lost time.

Because South Florida and Florida is a tourist economy there has been a sharp decline in employment during hurricane season because there were fewer and fewer visitors booking hotels and coming to Florida.

When the interviewers talked to teachers, “many of them identified children as the most severely impacted by natural disasters.” Many children from low-income neighborhoods of color depend on the two free meals they receive at school, which are breakfast and lunch. “Unfortunately when schools are closed, as they were last year for a two week period, often these children go hungry.” Also, “teachers were directly impacted because the school year was extended, so they had to work two more extra weeks at the end of their season.” Teachers also noted that classrooms and schools were damaged because of the weather.

In the construction industry union members “are extremely impacted by heat.” In addition, “They lose work because of flooding.”

Many workers reported unsafe working conditions during hurricanes; hospitals, for example, were “not being adapted to extreme weather conditions.”

Workers often have to “work excess hours” without “time to look after their own homes.” Many folks were living in evacuation zones; “they were still forced to go in work.” Many “had to leave behind their homes, their families,” and “many of them actually refused to go in to work because they had to take care of their homes or because they were in evacuation zones and became climate refugees.” Their unions were able to get their jobs back.

The bottom line of the survey of South Florida union members: An overwhelming 80% of our survey respondents said that they were worried about climate change affecting them personally.”

The coalition recently held a retreat to organize a campaign around these issues. “Public school bus drivers have begun to test the temperature readings on school buses.” Soon agricultural workers will start taking temperature readings in the fields. The coalition has also developed “a curriculum and workshops on the basics of climate change in South Florida” and is sharing it with unions and their members. And it helped coordinate the September 8 People’s Climate Movement march in South Florida.

Download Cynthia’s synopsis »

Youth Climate Movement Backs Jobs Guarantee for All

Sun, 09/30/2018 - 19:46

The youth climate movement Sunrise has issued a call for a federal Jobs Guarantee that would provide jobs for all, focused on the transition to a climate-safe economy. Sunrise is a movement “to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process.

Two Sunrise leaders, Varshini Prakash and Sarah Meyerhoff, called in their article “It’s Time for the Climate Movement to Embrace a Federal Jobs Guarantee” for a policy through which “the government directly employs anyone who wants a job but doesn’t have one.” Polling firm Civis Analytics says a jobs guarantee is one of the most popular issues they’ve ever polled 52% in support and 29% opposed. Polling by Sunrise indicates that support for a jobs guarantee focused on climate protection is even more popular.

Sunrise’s “Climate Jobs Guarantee Policy Primer” says that by making a Jobs Guarantee a headline demand for the climate movement, we can end the “jobs vs. environment” fallacy forever, rally unprecedented public support behind climate action, and ensure that JG proposals include jobs for a just and rapid transition to a zero-carbon, climate-resilient economy.

LNS is working with Sunrise and other groups to develop a labor-friendly strategy for a climate jobs guarantee.