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SEIU 1021 Resolution in support of Climate Justice Work

By SEIU 1021 - Resolution Adopted April 13, 2016

Note: The IWW is not affiliated with SEIU or any of its locals. This is posted for informational purposes only.

I. Climate Change is real. It is here. It is advancing. The only question is how bad things will become. We in Local 1021, our neighbors, and communities are already experiencing the effects of Climate Change in our work and lives. In California, headlines have focused on the drought caused by climate change, but the real effects will be far deeper and more severe than even that.

II. The world's scientists are almost unanimous in reporting that our environment is about to cross a point of no return that could endanger human life itself. This past year, SElU leaders and members were in Paris for the COP 21 meeting where the United States and 158 other countries established the ambitious goal of limiting the world's temperature rise to between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius, in order to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

III. Climate Change is largely fueled by carbon energy sources whose emissions are overwhelming our earth's ability to absorb that carbon. The buildup of carbon in our atmosphere is trapping heat and cooking our planet.

IV. Our economic system depends on extracting and depleting resources and creating waste at unsustainable levels. The environment is treated as an unlimited resource and waste dumping ground. Products are designed to be disposable to spur new sales and waste.

V. The same economic system that treats our environment as disposable also treats workers as disposable-leading to our country's extreme economic inequality. When corporations search the globe for ever lower wages and working conditions to produce the same product, it means wealth for a few but reductions in standard of living for the rest of us.

VI. SEIU's 21st Century Blueprint Committee report identified Climate Change and Income Inequality as major trends that are inherently linked, and that pose major challenges to all of us. The committee report states that: "...it is poor and working people who typically bear the greatest impact of pollution and extreme weather. In this respect, climate change is not only a global threat, but also major expressions of inequality."

VII. The combination of Economic lnjustice and Environmental lnjustice dumps a double dose of hurt on poor people, communities of color and other marginalized people that have historically borne the brunt of pollution and environmental hazards in their neighborhoods, resulting in severe and chronic health problems as we see in lower income communities from Richmond to Fresno to South LA.

VIII. For too long, our government at all levels and our public employees have been subjected to unprincipled attacks that undermine the value of our democracy and the services our communities rely upon. As Climate Change deepens, only public institutions will be able to develop the plans and marshal the resources needed to mitigate its worsening impact.

IX. As Public Employees and Members of SElU Local 1021 we are in a unique and strategic position to prove that government and our Unions defend the "Common Good" and are a force for good in our community. As Union Members and Working People, we have the ability to fight for solutions to climate change that specifically prevent disproportionate impacts on our communities and are "dedicated to improving the lives of workers and their families and creating a more just and humane society."

X. As public sector workers, we are responsible to education and create good environmental programs, policies, and solutions. We must demand the resources, training and capacity to do so; and must also fight to capture savings from innovations and efficiency so they are equitably shared with workers.

XI. We know that Winning for Working People requires building strong organizations and Alliances with Allies to fight for both Economic and Environmental Justice; and both SElU and Local 1021 have begun to build these alliances through local and national fights for economic and environmental justice.

Therefore be it resolved: SElU Local 1021 Leaders recognize Climate Change as a challenge and threat to the welfare of our Union's Members, workers, and communities everywhere; SElU Local 1021 Leaders recognize that while our Union's program of Organizing works to build power for members to win greater economic, social and racial justice, our efforts alone are not enough to win the "more humane society," all workers deserve; and we must partner with Allies in all progressive movements, and particularly Climate Change and Environmental Justice movement if we are to protect the healthy planet that all workers deserve;

SElU Local 1021 Leaders also recognize that we must work with our Allies to recognize and fight for Climate Change solutions that recognize the legitimate rights of workers to organize, their demands for economic justice and security, and the need for a Just Transition for workers in industries impacted by the move away from carbon to renewable energy sources.
To Accomplish these Goals SElU Local 1021 Leaders commit to making Climate Justice a part of our Union's Program. Some of these goals may include:

  • Educating Members, Officers and Staff about climate change and the need for climate justice. To include illustrating the interconnectedness and impact on, working people and our larger fights for economic and racial justice.
  • Developing a program of Action on Climate Change that puts to use our skills and expertise as Union Members and Public Employees to promote solutions that contribute to mitigating and adapting to the Climate Crisis and that protect and advance the rights and interests of all workers and our communities as a part of our Union Work, including areas such as but not limited to:
    • Common Good Campaigns
    • Bargaining Demands
    • Labor Management Partnerships
    • Political, Policy and Budgeting Work
    • Participation in State, County, Local "tables," where mitigation
    • and adaptation policies are being developed
    • Movement Coalition Building with Allies
    • Mobilizing Members to Action

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.