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EcoWobbles - EcoUnionist News #144

Compiled by x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, March 17, 2017

News of interest to green unionists:

Alabama's largest solar farm completed - By Bruce Lieberman, Yale Climate Connections, March 9, 2017 - During construction, it employed over 350 workers, and most of those were from the local area.

An open letter to America's coal miners, and to America - By Mark Sumner, Daily Kos, March 8, 2017 - I worked in coal mining for 32 years. I won’t go so far as to call myself a miner, because only a fraction of that was spent actually loading explosives in a surface mine, or working construction underground. Most of my time I was that other thing, a “company man.”

Atenco, Mexico: Campesinos opposed to the New Airport Violently Attacked - By anonymous, It's Going Down, March 10, 2017 - A group of between 30 and 40 people violently attacked members of the Frente de Pueblos en Defensa de la Tierra (FPDT) and others of the state of Mexico that are opposing the construction of the new international airport of Mexico City. This violent group was armed and shot on various occasions at campesinos that were protesting with a road blockade in Tocuila.

Chicago Teachers Union hosts International Women’s Day Protest - By Mark Ugolini, Socialist Action, March 12, 2017 - Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 308 leader Deborah Cosey-Lane addressed the plight of Chicago transit workers who have been without a contract for over 14 months. “We’re sick and tired of being sick and tired!” she said, after describing working conditions of woman drivers, who are forced to endure unsafe and demeaning rules, working long hours, and being denied bathroom facilities and breaks.

‘Close To A Miracle’ More People Weren’t Hurt In Newburgh Train Derailment - By staff, CBS New York, March 8, 2017 - “During that derailment, the freight cars and the tankers, they struck two pieces of CSX maintenance equipment that were on an adjacent track,” Mazzone said, adding that two employees who were operating the equipment were treated for injuries.

Coal employment prospects bleak and bleaker - By Bruce Lieberman, Yale Climate Connections, March 8, 2017 - Coal, despite what President Trump promises, will continue to be in decline — and it’s not because the federal government is regulating it out of existence.

The Crisis in the ATU: Labour Shoots Itself in the Foot - By Sam Gindin and Herman Rosenfeld, The Bullet, March 14, 2017 - A sign of the tragic disarray of the Canadian labour movement is the extent to which its misadventures keep piling up. As the turmoil within the union representing the Ontario government's unionized employees (Ontario Public Service Employees Union – OPSEU) hits the press, the chaos continues in Local 113 of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU). The 10,500 members in that local – over a third of the ATU's Canadian membership – operate and maintain Toronto's transit system, North America's third largest public transit system, behind only New York and Mexico City. As with OPSEU, the acrimonious story is not about a tough strike or a response to an anti-union government. Rather, at a time when the union should be leading the charge to address popular frustrations with the failures in the city's transit system, the local is preoccupied with a messy internal battle.

Even if Symbolic, Chicago Fossil Fuel Divestment Could Send "Powerful Signal" - By Kari Lydersen, Truthout, March 15, 2017 - "There's a good argument to save the pension funds and pensioners when the carbon bubble bursts," said Coble. "It's like musical chairs, you don't want to be left holding these bonds when the music ends."

Expanded wind tower production in Portland shows Vic Renewable Energy Target already creating jobs - By Pat Simons, Yes2Renewables, March 10, 2017 - Friends of the Earth say expanded wind turbine tower production at Keppel Prince in Portland — Australia’s leading wind turbine tower maker – demonstrates that the Andrews government’s commitment to ambitious Victorian Renewable Energy Targets is already creating jobs in regional communities.

A fading future for the tar sands - By Adam Scott, Oil Change International, March 10, 2017 - Oil majors are dumping Canada’s tar sands assets and investors are walking away from new projects.

5 Remarkable Moments from Bernie Sanders' Town Hall in the Heart of Coal Country - By Alexandra Rosenmann, Alternet, March 14, 2017 - Sanders wants to make sure America's coal country "heroes" get the pensions they deserve, an issue highlighted in a Van Jones "Messy Truth" segment last week.

FTAs and Agriculture: New Edition of Nyeleni Newsletter is out! - By staff, La Via Campesina, March 15, 2017 - FTAs aren’t just about ‘trade’. They’re comprehensive agreements to lock in free market capitalism, strengthen the power of global corporations, finance, and powerful governments, and advance their geopolitical objectives. There are direct links between FTAs, climate change, ecological devastation, and violations of Indigenous Peoples’, workers’ and farmers’ rights.

Freeport’s Cerro Verde copper mine in Peru hit by strike - By Cecilia Jamasmie, Mining.Com, March 10, 2017 - Workers at Freeport-McMoRan's (NYSE:FCX) Cerro Verde copper mine in Peru began Friday an indefinite strike over wages, adding pressures to a stressed global copper market already affected by stoppages at two of the world’s biggest copper operations.

Freight Train Derails Along Newburgh Waterfront - By Leonard Sparks, Times Herald-Record, March 9, 2017 - A CSX train carrying hazardous materials derailed Tuesday after striking a forklift being driven across the tracks by a steel company employee, leaving an engine resting across Water Street, injuring two and alarming local officials who long feared a derailment.The 77-car train derailed about 3:15 p.m. as an employee for Steelways Inc. drove the lift across Water Street, which separates the company’s main waterfront site from a property where massive steel tubes for the Delaware Aqueduct bypass tunnel project are being stored.

'Healthcare is a Right': Bernie Sanders Finds Common Ground in Trump Country - By Nika Knight, Common Dreams, March 14, 2017 - Sanders also advocated for retired miners—many of whom suffer from black lung disease and other ailments from a lifetime of mining coal—to receive the pensions and healthcare benefits currently tied up in Congress. He specifically called out Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who represents voters in coal country, for advocating for coal company executives over their workers. One audience member—another retired miner—agreed with Sanders' assessment, telling the senator that "I think it's ironic that a senator from the Northeast takes care of my benefits better than someone like Mitch McConnell."

Honduran Farmers Sue World Bank Group for Human Rights Violations - By Earthrights International, Common Dreams, March 8, 2017 - The Plaintiffs in the suit allege that they are among the scores of farmers in the Bajo Aguán who have been shot, killed, and terrorized by Dinant and security forces working on its behalf. This is the first time a community has sued the IFC in federal court for aiding and abetting crimes related to a project the World Bank Group funded.

How the US Wind Sector Is Building Momentum, Driving Economic Benefits - By Sushma Udipi Nagendran, Greentech Media, March 14, 2017 - The number of wind industry jobs grew by nearly 17 percent to 102,500 jobs in 2016, and will continue to increase in 2017. According to the AWEA/Navigant report, the U.S. wind industry could see a total of 248,000 jobs by 2020. Of this amount, 33,000 Americans are forecast to work in factories supplying components to the wind industry; 114,000 in building, operating and maintaining wind turbines; and an additional 102,000 workers in jobs induced by the wind sector’s economic activity.

It’s been 50 days since Donald Trump became President. A few things worth remembering - By Zoë Wong-Weissman, 350.org, March 12, 2017 - The Peoples Climate March on April 29 will be a historic moment where we will show unshakeable opposition to Trump’s agenda and push forward our own vision of a 100% renewable energy economy that works for all.

My Congressman Is Trying to Abolish the EPA - By Farron Cousins, DeSmog Blog, March 14, 2017 -  In spite of the popular Republican talking point, environmental protections actually create jobs and spur innovation. Those jobs are due to the increased enforcement and compliance needs for both the federal government and corporations affected by the regulations. If national standards disappear, those jobs would immediately be lost. If states do not enact standards as strict as those from the EPA, the majority of those jobs may not return.

Noble to lay off 200 Midland workers after buying Clayton Williams - By David Hunn, FuelFix, March 13, 2017 - Noble Energy, following its recent purchase of Clayton Williams Energy, is preparing to close a Midland office and lay off almost 200 Clayton Williams employees.

NUMSA Statement on ESKOM - By Irvin Jim, NUMSA, March 12, 2017 - The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) is dismayed and shocked by the announcement which has been made by Eskom that it plans to shut down five power stations. Eskom announced this week that five power stations, Hendrina, Kriel, Komati, Grootvlei and Camden would be closed.

Pennsylvania College Students Tell Wolf: No New Pipelines, Green Jobs Now - By Alex L, Energy Justice Network, March 13, 2017 - On Monday, students from 19 Pennsylvania colleges and universities delivered a statement to Governor Tom Wolf's Capitol office demanding no new natural gas pipelines and immediate investment in green jobs.

Revealed: How BP Puts its Branding in Local Schools While Cutting North Sea Jobs - By Mat Hope, DeSmog Blog, March 13, 2017 - Last year BP announced it was cutting 600 jobs in the region — the equivalent of a fifth of its North Sea workforce. The cuts are part of 4,000 redundancies BP expects to make in the wake of falling oil prices and rising exploration costs.

Safety training of Canadian rail workers needs to improve, says union - By United Steelworkers, Industrial Safety & Hygiene News, February 21, 2017 - "We have been advocating for some time for increased safety measures, including lower speed limits in certain situations, improved training and greater employee retention and recruitment," said Randy Koch, President of USW Local 2004, which represents 3,000 CN Rail employees who maintain and repair the railway's track, bridges and infrastructure across Canada.

Senvion announces job cuts to secure 'competitiveness' - By David Weston and Sara Knight, Wind Power Monthly, March 13, 2017 - Following recent rumours of a restructure, Senvion has announced it intends to cut 780 jobs worldwide in a bid to increase competitiveness following its initial public offering (IPO) last year.

Silver Valley miners strike, shutting down Lucky Friday mine - By Jonathan Glover, Spokesman-Review, March 13, 2017 - Rick “Redman” Norman and about 60 other miners spent Monday morning doing something they’ve never done before at the Lucky Friday mine in the Silver Valley: picket, not work.

Solar’s Last Frontier - By Rachel Waldholz, Inside Energy, March 10, 2017 - A recent report from the Solar Foundation ranked Alaska 51st out of 50 states (the list also includes Washington, D.C.) in solar jobs per capita.

Southern Communities Brace for the Impact of Big Oil's Expansion Plans - By Sue Sturgis, Common Dreams, March 12, 2017 - President Donald Trump kicked off this week with a Monday morning tweet hailing — and seeming to wrongly take credit for — Exxon Mobil's plan for a $20 billion expansion of its refineries, chemical plants and liquefied natural gas operations along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Southwestern utilities back down from rooftop solar fight - By Elizabeth Shogren, High Country News, March 10, 2017 - Apparently big electric companies are learning that given the broad popularity of solar in the sunny desert region, they will have to accommodate rooftop solar instead of trying to kill it. This reflects the growing political might of the solar industry as it’s seen as a key job creator in much of the Southwest.

Sungevity Cuts Staff by Two-Thirds as Downward Spiral Continues - By Julian Spector, GreenTech Media, March 9, 2017 - The company even declined to pay severance or accrued vacation days -- it handed out checks for the last pay period and sent people on their way.

Sungevity Declares Bankruptcy, Sells Assets, Gains up to $20M to Continue ‘Uninterrupted’ Operations - By Eric Wesoff and Julian Spector, GreenTech Media, March 13, 2017 - Sungevity has filed "a number of customary pleadings with the court, seeking authorization to pay certain pre-petition obligations, support its business operations, and transition them through the sale process. These include the payment of employee wages, taxes, insurance, critical vendors, and utility providers, as well as the continuation of the company's customer support programs."

Terminal decline? Fukushima anniversary marks nuclear industry's deepening crisis - By Jim Green, The Ecologist, March 10, 2017 - Radiation biologist Ian Fairlie summarises the health impacts from the Fukushima disaster: "In sum, the health toll from the Fukushima nuclear disaster is horrendous. At the minimum...About 12,000 workers exposed to high levels of radiation, some up to 250 mSv.

Troubled Sungevity KC office received only a fraction of promised tax benefits - By Diane Stafford, Kansas City Star, March 13, 2017 - Several workers who were let go said they were investigating possible legal action because their final paychecks didn’t include overtime and commission pay due them. They also said no severance pay was provided, but employees have no legal right to severance benefits.

TUED Bulletin 56: TUED unions deliver ‘reclaiming power’ message to Labour Party in UK - By staff, Trade Unions for Energy Democracy, March 13, 2017 - TUED unions meet in London.  Two day ‘reclaiming power’ strategy session ends with constructive talks with Labour Party shadow minister, Alan Whitehead.

US Air Force Hilariously Trolls Trump With New California Solar Energy Upgrade - By Tina Casey, Clean Technica, March 14, 2017 - Utah’s economic future is at stake. Without a carefully planned strategy, Utah will certainly grow, but not with high-paying jobs that support a family and that generate sufficient tax revenues to support our large education burden…Low salaries have social consequences: more families needing multiple incomes to survive economically, higher bankruptcy rates, the lowest per-pupil education spending in the nation. We must aspire to be a high-wage state.

The US has one inspector for every 5,000 miles of pipeline—or twice the length of the country, each - By Zoë Schlanger, Quartz, March 10, 2017 - If US president Donald Trump’s plans to complete both the long-disputed Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines come to fruition, they would add 327 miles and 1,172 miles, respectively, to that burden. It is unclear if PHMSA will add new inspectors to accommodate that increase, and PHMSA has yet to return a request for comment.

US Solar Has Biggest Year Ever, Nearly Doubling Previous Record — #1 Source Of New US Electricity Capacity - By Joshua S Hill, Clean Technica, March 9, 2017 - “It would be hard to overstate how impressive 2016 was for the solar industry,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s president and CEO. “Prices dropped to all-time lows, installations expanded in states across the country and job numbers soared. The bottom line is that more people are benefiting from solar now than at any point in the past, and while the market is changing, the broader trend over the next five years is going in one direction – and that’s up.”

US Wind Industry Could Drive A Quarter-Million Jobs By 2020, Says Navigant - By Tina Casey, Clean Technica, March 10, 2017 - A new analysis of the US wind energy sector by Navigant Consulting could see the sector drive up to 248,000 jobs and $85 billion in economic activity over the next four years.

USAS Celebrates 20 Year Legacy, Strategizes for Continued Resistance - By staff, United Students Against Sweatshops, March 14, 2017 - On February 24th and 25th, students from across the country gathered in Columbus, Ohio at The University of Ohio for the 20th National USAS conference, celebrating 20 years of student and worker power.

Victoria pioneering climate just transition package for Hazelwood coal workers - By John Englart, Storify, March 9, 2017 - This transfer package is an important component of a suite of support mechanism being put into place for the community, a part of a just transition being pioneered by the Victorian government driven by the necessity to move to zero carbon emissions by climate change.

We’re 50 days into the Trump presidency, and he’s already made quite the mess - By Lisa Hymas, Grist, March 10, 2017 - Donald Trump has now been in the White House for 50 days. We’ve been chronicling the eco-carnage of his presidency in our Trump Tracker columns. Three weeks have passed since the last column, and hoo-boy, have the president and his cabinet of deplorables been busy since then, swinging the wrecking ball every which way. Here’s what you need to know.

What If Trump & Pruitt Do Clobber US & California Fuel Economy Standards? - By Zachary Shahan, Clean Technica, March 9, 2017 - Maybe Tesla, BYD, Lucid, Smart, and others will come in and create jobs that Big Auto sacrifices. But yeah, I think any companies that try to go backwards technologically will find that going backwards is a great way to sink their ship.

What is the fastest growing occupation in the country? (Hint: It will blow you away!) - By Allie Brown, Clean Energy FootPrints, March 9, 2017 - Navigant projects that wind energy industry jobs will grow to a quarter of a million jobs by 2020 (including direct, indirect and induced jobs). Additionally, over the next four years, the wind industry will generate $85 billion of economic activity nationwide. These economic benefits are based on projections that the wind industry will add 35,000 megawatts of new wind power capacity through 2020.

Work and Climate Change Report - The green transition of work and workplaces: Research and News from a Canadian viewpoint, By Elizbeth Perry

Working Women vs. Nike - By Sophorn Yang, United Students Against Sweatshops, March 9, 2017 - Yesterday, across the globe, women walked off the job and marched in resistance on International Working Women’s Day. I took the streets of Washington DC alongside USAS and hundreds of women demanding dignity in the workplace.

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.