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Unions and Climate Strikes: How climate strikers can involve unions/union workers

By x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, July 2019

The following is text from a leaflet you can download intended for Climate and Earth Strike organizers who wish to engage unions, union workers, or workers in general in an effort to invite them to participate in the Climate and Earth Strikes from September 20-27, 2019. There is a generic version and an IWW specific version (below and right; click on the image to view and download a PDF of either or both).

Unions have engaged in strikes for the environment since the 1970s, known as green bans. However:

  • Generic LeafletWhile it is tempting to believe we can create enough buzz to convince enough workers to actually engage in work stoppages (actual workplace strikes) on September 20, 27, or any other date, we cannot guarantee it, even though some unions and union officials have suggested that a “strike” for the climate (e.g. Bruce Hamilton, Vice President of ATU) or at least for the Green New Deal (e.g. the Massachusetts Teacher’s Union) are exactly what are needed.
  • Things can change between now and September 2019 and we cannot predict how that will unfold.
  • We can recall the immigrant workers’ “general strike” on May 1, 2006, in which some unions, notably the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), participated as a possible forerunner, but again, we cannot guarantee it.
  • Anyone can call for a general strike, but actually organizing one is much more difficult, as Jane McAlevey points out here.
  • Some unions may participate, but won’t publicly announce their intent, because doing so could bring swift retribution from the bosses.
  • IWW Specific LeafletWhat we can do is urge workers to participate in the day(s) of action by attending events in the morning (before work), at lunch, or in the evening (after work); we can suggest they use a vacation day (but not a sick day). They can also sign a statement, draft a resolution for their union “in support”, or (if possible) hold a “stop work meeting” to discuss the issue. They can also conduct a social media campaign, such as taking a selfie with a sign saying they support the strike, and include a hashtag (this video from England has similar suggestions).
  • Meanwhile, those organizing day(s) of action can support unions in their day-to-day struggles and they can be prepared to pledge to defend any workers who actually get disciplined for participating in the strike (but this should not be dangled as an offer to pressure workers into joining).

There are a number of “green” unionists who are working on this, including (but not limited to):

The IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus will try and keep a record of who in the labor movement is (or who may be) participating in the strikes. Visit our website and enter these tags in the “search” engine (or enter the same hashtags on our social media pages) for news: #GreenBans; #EarthStrike; #ClimateStrike. Email euc@iww.org for more information.

Endorsements

The following unions have endorsed the Climate and Earth Strike(s) (as far as we know):

Notable Strike Actions among IWW members

  • Green Party USA Staff - The unionized national staff members of the Green Party of the United States have decided to down tools on Friday in recognition of the existential crisis our planet is facing. They will be participating in street actions in various cities. Members of the Industrial Workers of the World, the Green Party remains the only unionized national political party in the United States.

Which Climate/Earth Strike do We Mean?

There is, understandably, some confusion over which "strike" is being endorsed and/or discussed. That is because there are at least two or three independently organized efforts which seem to be bleeding together (and could very well aggregate as the date(s) approach(es)). We recommend keeping up with all of them:

  • Earth Strike is the "general strike to save the planet" associated with Extinction Rebellion and radical left figures. It is called for September 27th - earth-strike.com; however in the UK, the date is also set for September 20 and has substantial IWW involvement - earth-strike.com/en/uk/
  • Climate Strike is the FridaysForFuture one associated with Greta Thunberg and is called for September 20th - climatestrike.net | strikewithus.org | en español
  • Global Climate Strike is the 350.org one called for September 20th - 27th, which seems to be an effort to piggyback onto or offer a bridge between the other two - globalclimatestrike.net
  • In the US, see this interactive map of events.

See also the following video appeal:

Still other efforts may coalesce and/or build off of these, so we recommend staying tuned. Bookmark and revisit this particular alert regularly for updates!

(An incomplete list of) Local Climate Strike Pages:

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

The Fine Print I:

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The Fine Print II:

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