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Sierra Club

Earthworkers Unite!

By members - Earthworks Unite, January 17, 2024

The following statement was issued on September 12, 2024

We, the eligible staff of Earthworks, are excited to announce that we have formed a union with the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), Earthworkers Unite. We ask that the Leadership Team (LT) and Board recognize Earthworkers Unite and agree to come to the bargaining table with us immediately. We currently have 21 workers signed up in the union, which we believe represents at least 77% of eligible staff.

We have formed this union in solidarity with our fellow workers, colleagues, and partners. Core to creating a just world is deep democracy and we cannot work towards this future without first modeling it within our own organization. We deserve a workplace where we are respected, empowered to create the strategy which determines our work, and know that when there is conflict there is a just and impartial process available to us. We believe deeply in the work we do and love the communities we work with, and have organized this union to do this work more sustainably and equitably. This announcement is an invitation for Earthworks to continue to align its actions with its mission to promote a just future and address systems of oppression both within and outside the organization.

We know Earthworks can and must be better for its workers and for the communities we serve. We can only effectively organize, advocate, or support partners when we are respected and supported by our workplace. We unionize in solidarity with peer organizations including the Sierra Club, Food and Water Watch, Friends of the Earth, and the League of Conservation Voters, and the more than 9,000 workers IWW represents in the so-called United States. The next great labor movement is here, and we are proud to be a part of it.

Retired Union Member Explains Why Veterans Should Want Peace

Sierra Club Statement on UAW Deals with the Big Three Automakers

By Larisa Manescu - Common Dreams, October 30, 2023

WASHINGTON - The United Auto Workers has announced tentative agreements in their contract negotiations with the “Big Three” Automakers: Ford, Stellantis, and General Motors.

Wins from the tentative agreements:

  • All three agreements will increase base wages by 25% through April 2028;
  • Ford’s deal creates a pathway to allow workers at future battery plants, including the new EV complex in Tennessee, to join the union and be included in the master agreement;
  • Stellantis’ deal will reopen the idled Belvidere Assembly Plant in Illinois and add a new battery plant in Belvidere;
  • General Motors battery production workers will be included under the master UAW contract.

Tens of thousands of UAW workers have been on strike across the U.S. since the UAW contract expired on September 16. The Sierra Club, alongside many in the environment movement, has loudly echoed the demands of auto workers to ensure that the clean energy transition is a just transition.

Next, the tentative agreements for each automaker must be voted on and ratified by UAW members.

In response, Sierra Club Executive Director Ben Jealous released the following statement:

“As UAW President Shawn Fain has said from the start, ‘Record profits mean record contracts.’ For workers and further ensuring a just transition to clean energy, these tentative contracts are truly historic.

“The transformation of the auto sector – and the economy more broadly – to meet U.S. climate commitments represents a generational opportunity to build an economy that works for everyone. This work will not be easy, but in negotiating historic contracts, UAW has reminded the world what is possible!”

Texas Unions, Community, and Climate Groups Release Statement on HyVelocity Hydrogen Hub

By staff - Texas Climate Jobs Project, October 25, 2023

HyVelocity is poised to receive $1.2 billion to build Texas Gulf hydrogen hub

Houston, Texas – Today the Texas Climate Jobs Project, Commission Shift, Air Alliance Houston, West Street Recovery, the Coalition for Environment, Equity, and Resilience, Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter, Sunrise Movement ATX, Texas AFL-CIO, and the Texas Gulf Coast Area Labor Federation released the following statement in response to the Department of Energy’s decision to move forward and negotiate with HyVelocity to award $1.2 billion to build a hydrogen hub in the Texas Gulf:

“We are deeply distressed by the Department of Energy’s decision to advance the HyVelocity hydrogen application in Texas. Through the Department of Energy Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub program, the Biden administration is poised to transfer $1.2 billion in taxpayer dollars to HyVelocity, whose application sponsors include ExxonMobil and Chevron, and whose supporting partners include Amazon, Governor Greg Abbott, and the Texas Railroad Commission.” 

“Our organizations are on the front lines of environmental justice, labor organizing, and community work to reduce carbon emissions and improve living conditions across the Texas Gulf, and HyVelocity’s lack of transparency and refusal to make adequate concrete commitments leave us concerned. We urge the Department of Energy to compel HyVelocity to resolve its differences with our organizations before choosing to move the applicant further in the process.” 

“This includes, at a minimum: prioritizing projects that use renewable energy like wind and solar to help reduce overall carbon emissions; binding community workforce agreements for construction workers with strong Justice40 commitments; and binding labor peace agreements to ensure a just transition for fossil fuel workers.”

Sierra Club Statement on Major UAW Progress with General Motors

By Larisa Manescu - Common Dreams, October 6, 2023

WASHINGTON - Today, the United Auto Workers announced progress in their contract negotiations with one of the “Big Three” Automakers – General Motors – stating that the automaker has agreed to include battery production workers in the UAW contract, one of the key demands of the union.

Over 25,000 UAW workers have been on strike since the UAW contract expired on September 16. The Sierra Club, alongside many in the environment movement, has been echoing the demand of auto workers to ensure that the clean energy transition is a just transition.

In response, Sierra Club Executive Director Ben Jealous released the following statement:

“Today we celebrate alongside the United Auto Workers this major advancement in building a more just transition to a clean energy future. Tomorrow, we will participate in a Day of Action to keep the pressure up on the ‘Big Three’ automakers to deliver on all of the union’s demands. Ensuring battery production workers are represented in the UAW contract is critical to ensuring America’s transition to electric vehicles puts workers front and center. We are glad to see GM begin to deliver on a just transition, marking a significant momentum in negotiations. Now all eyes are on Ford and Stellantis to listen to their workers. It’s clear that the public pressure is working – onward!”

GOP, Corporate Media Attempt to Manufacture Conflict Between Autoworkers and Climate

Green Groups Stand With UAW in Fight to Protect Autoworkers During EV Transition

By Julia Conley - Common Dreams, September 13, 2023

On the eve of the expiration of the United Auto Workers union's contract and a potential strike Wednesday, climate action groups were among more than 100 civil society organizations on Wednesday calling on the "Big Three" automakers to ensure that a new contract protects workers as the U.S. transitions toward making electric vehicles.

Groups including the Center for Biological Diversity, Public Citizen, Sierra Club, and Earthjustice were among those expressing solidarity with nearly 150,000 union autoworkers who are demanding that employees of electric vehicle battery plants being developed by Stellantis, Ford, and General Motors are paid fairly—reflecting the record profits the automakers have reported in recent years.

"Within the next few years—the span of this next contract—lies humanity's last chance to navigate a transition away from fossil fuels, including away from combustion engines," wrote the groups in an open letter. "With that shift comes an opportunity for workers in the United States to benefit from a revival of new manufacturing, including electric vehicles (EVs) and collective transportation like buses and trains, as a part of the renewable energy revolution."

"This transition must center workers and communities, especially those who have powered our economy through the fossil fuel era, and be a vehicle for economic and racial justice," they added. "We are putting you on notice: Corporate greed and shareholder profits must never again be put before safe, good-paying union jobs, clean air and water, and a livable future."

Why the Climate Movement Is Supporting Auto Worker’s Fight for a Just Transition

By Sydney Ghazarian - Labor Network for Sustainability, August 17, 2023

Welcome everyone! My name is Sydney, I am an organizer with the Labor Network for Sustainability, and I am honored to facilitate tonight’s Solidarity Call for United Auto Workers Union, which is currently bargaining for a fair contract with the Big 3 Automakers- Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis. 

What makes tonight’s call so special is that it’s a solidarity call by and for the climate movement because we recognize that UAW’s fight is our fight too.

What I love about the climate movement is that we are fighters. And our fight has spanned decades and across generations, and for the last several years, hundreds and thousands of us have rallied, door knocked, made calls, and done sit ins and direct actions to fight for a Green New Deal– which is a society-wide mobilization and just transition to decarbonize the economy while repairing historic harm and creating millions of high-paying, union jobs.

And I want to be clear: Without us fighting for a Green New Deal, there would be no Inflation Reduction Act and its historic investments in clean energy. But we also know that the IRA is not a Green New Deal, and falls desperately short of the Green New Deal’s vision of the world we are trying to build. Rather than massive investments in the public sector, frontline communities, and good, green, union jobs that uplift working people, the IRA invests primarily in private corporations– often the same ones responsible for perpetuating the climate crisis in the first place. 

Unlike the IRA, the Green New Deal understands that the implementation of climate policy, and how resources are distributed to achieve it, are key to ensuring climate justice and ensuring that millions of people are equipped to take that leap of faith away from fossil fuels and into a green economy. 

To The CEOs of General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis:

By various - Labor Network for Sustainability, et. al., August 16, 2023

(Mary Barra, Jim Farley, and Carlos Tavares)

We, the undersigned climate, environmental, racial, and social justice organizations, stand in solidarity with auto workers and their union the United Auto Workers (UAW) in their upcoming contract negotiations with the “Big 3” automakers: General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis. We firmly support the UAW members’ demands and believe that the success of these negotiations is of critical importance for the rights and well-being of workers and to safeguard people and the environment. Only through meeting these demands will the United States ensure a just transition to a renewable energy future.

Lack of fair wages, job security, and dignified working conditions have left workers and our communities reeling. Worse, in recent months, workers and their communities have experienced unprecedented extreme heat, smoke pollution, flooding, and other disasters. The leaders of your companies have historically made decisions that exacerbated both of these crises over the past few decades — driving further inequality and increasing pollution. That is why we are standing in solidarity with the UAW and all workers and communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis and the necessary transition.

Within the next few years — the span of this next contract — lies humanity’s last chance to navigate a transition away from fossil fuels, including away from combustion engines. With that shift comes an opportunity for workers in the United States to benefit from a revival of new manufacturing, including electric vehicles (EVs) and collective transportation like buses and trains, as a part of the renewable energy revolution. This transition must center workers and communities, especially those who have powered our economy through the fossil fuel era, and be a vehicle for economic and racial justice. We are putting you on notice: Corporate greed and shareholder profits must never again be put before safe, good-paying union jobs, clean air and water, and a liveable future.

Laid-off Sierra Club Staffers: ‘We Can’t Give Up on United Fronts’

By Brooke Anderson, Hop Hopkins, and, Michelle Mascarenhas - Convergence, August 8, 2023

For the last decade, climate justice organizers have seen the Sierra Club as a critical lever for moving a climate agenda that centers equity and just transition. It has the largest grassroots base outside of labor, the most substantial infrastructure of any national green group in the US, and roots in a movement that at times was not afraid to go toe-to-toe with large corporations or development-oriented pro-business government entities.

But beginning in May, the organization accelerated a restructuring process that included layoffs of the entire equity and environmental justice teams and of senior staffers, several Black women and other women of color among them. At the same time, numerous new executive-level staff with high salaries were brought on to usher in a new organizational direction. This move, led by new BIPOC executive leadership, pulls back years of steady progress towards aligning the organization with the more progressive climate agenda. It is a harbinger of a shift away from equity and towards green capital just as the 2024 election nears—and reflects an anti-woke backlash occurring in liberal organizations across many sectors of the movement.

To better understand these shifts, movement journalist Brooke Anderson interviewed two longtime climate justice organizers and veteran social movement strategists, Michelle Mascarenhas and Hop Hopkins. Prior to being laid off from the Sierra Club this spring, Mascarenhas was its national director of campaigns, and Hopkins resigned as its director of organizational transformation.

Hopkins and Mascarenhas had been working to align the Sierra Club with the frontline-led climate justice movement, as part of an intentional effort to shift the organization from its racist roots and practice. Founded in 1892, the organization led the creation of the National Park Service, expanding on a legacy of dispossession and genocide of Indigenous peoples by insisting that protecting land meant removing it from Indigenous stewardship. “The Population Bomb,” which the Sierra Club published in 1968, was weaponized against poor people and people of color. It placed blame for the global ecological crisis on those least responsible: poor women of color and immigrants. This contributed to the anti-Black, anti-immigrant, anti-single mother attacks that continue to this day. 

The sophisticated analysis Mascarenhas and Hopkins offer of “what time it is on the clock of the world” (to borrow from the late, great Grace Lee Boggs) doesn’t just speak to happenings inside the Sierra Club. Rather, it holds deep-rooted and durable wisdom for left organizers attempting to make critical interventions in larger, liberal or centrist spaces in the non-profit industrial complex—and clarifies the sides and the stakes in today’s debates over climate policy. 

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