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In Face of Climate Crisis, Environment and Trade Union Movements Finding Common Cause

By Susann Scherbarth - Common Dreams, November 28, 2017

World climate negotiations concluded in Bonn, Germany recently after two painstaking weeks. Whilst many parties to the UN convention and other commentators choose to highlight any small steps forward in the talks, no matter how inadequate, Friends of the Earth opts to speak truth to power.

Asia Pacific is the region where the most people are already feeling the impacts of changes in the climate and Meena Raman of Friends of the Earth Malaysia spoke out in Bonn, saying “Every COP feels like a broken record.  We are sick and tired of talkshops. Act!”

2017 has been a devastating year and is set to be one of the hottest three years on record. Around the globe people are paying with their lives and livelihoods for climate-exacerbated extreme weather events in the form of hurricanes, wildfires and heatwaves. Terrifyingly, new data shows that global emissions will rise again this year after several years of stagnation—world emissions have not even peaked yet when we need them to be falling fast. The disconnect  between the scale of government action and the urgency of the climate crisis is as vast as ever.

And yet, the transition of world economies away from fossil fuels will happen. The energy transformation is as inevitable as climate change and its devastating impacts are real. The questions are; how fast will it be? who will benefit? and who will lose out?

Analysts believe the transition to clean energy sources is likely to happen faster than anyone expects. Even the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) – not a body prone to invite instability – predicts that the pace of technological change will be underestimated.

But if left to market forces guided by transnational corporations it is very likely to be unfair, slow and painful. We should be ready for the most rapid industrial transformation ever. And we should learn the lessons from history of other industrial shifts. Trade unions are already warning that transitions of industrial systems in the past have brought a lot of suffering for workers. People’s jobs, livelihoods, connections to the land, family bonds and heritage have been lost.

With this in mind, environment and trade union movements have come together to call for a ‘just transition’—a transition that leaves no-one behind. A transition that is fair and secures workers' jobs and livelihoods through the creation of decent opportunities. Done right we can simultaneously tackle the climate crisis and also inequality, employment and democratic crises.

Capital Blight News #114

Compiled by x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, July 27, 2016

A supplement to Eco Unionist News:

Lead Stories:

The Man Behind the Curtain:

Green is the New Red:

What Solidarity Looks Like: Nearly 100 Unions Pitch In to Help Flint

By Brandon Weber - The Progressive, March 16, 2016

Unions from all over the midwest have donated time, water, dollars, and more to help the residents of Flint, Michigan get through the water crisis that still rages on there.

Firefighters, electricians, nurses, teachers, teamsters, auto workers, plumbers, and government workers have been working to provide help and a sense of humanity in a situation that, frankly, lacks a lot of both. Many have come from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, New York, as well as across the state of Michigan to help lend a hand where necessary, including installing water filters—all with volunteer labor.

“A lot of our members live here in the community,” said Jeff Peake, organizer at Local 370. “We have a responsibility to pay back.”

It’s a community that has been on hard times for decades. The one-two punch of auto plants moving to places like Mexico resulting in a loss of union jobs, combined with the further economic damage of the Great Recession, means this city, once boasting 200,000 people, has about half that these days, and just over 40 percent of them live at or below the poverty level. 

In an article from The Grio, one Flint resident talked about watching it change. “It was a wonderful place to grow up,” said Lynntoia Webster, thirty-two. “But I saw a lot of changes by the time I was in the ninth and tenth grade. I could see our economy was changing. People in my family were getting laid off from the auto industry, and that’s when it became not such a great place to live.”

Recently, Flint residents learned that General Motors switched back to the Detroit River for its water after just four months because the Flint River water was rusting the engines at one of its auto plants. The troubling story continues to unfold. It’s clear that the people of Flint took the hit, while business leaders and the state officials responsible for the crisis looked the other way.

There are still many things that need to happen for Flint to be safe again, like replacing corroding water pipes to houses in many neighborhoods, but things are finally progressing — thanks in large part to the help of organizations like Flint Rising, which is leading a grassroots effort to push for change.

EcoUnionist News #77

Compiled by x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, November 24, 2015

The following news items feature issues, discussions, campaigns, or information potentially relevant to green unionists:

Lead Stories:

Ongoing Mobilizations:

The Road to Paris:

Bread and Roses:

An Injury to One is an Injury to All:

Carbon Bubble:

Just Transition:

Other News:

For more green news, please visit our news feeds section on ecology.iww.org; Twitter #IWWEUC; Hashtags: #greenunionism #greensyndicalism #IWW. Please send suggested news items to include in this series to euc [at] iww.org.

EcoUnionist News #74

Compiled by x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, November 3, 2015

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 following news items feature issues, discussions, campaigns, or information potentially relevant to green unionists:

Lead Stories:

Ongoing Mobilizations:

The Road to Paris:

Bread and Roses:

An Injury to One is an Injury to All:

Carbon Bubble:

Just Transition:

Other News:

For more green news, please visit our news feeds section on ecology.iww.org; Twitter #IWWEUC; Hashtags: #greenunionism #greensyndicalism #IWW

Greenpeace Workers Strike Amid Claims of Exploitation

By Cyrus Ward - Young Progressive Voices, August 16, 2015

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.

Workers at two California Greenpeace offices have gone on strike amid concerns over an unjust quota system that creates a zero-sum, high pressure environment which puts canvassers in risk of being fired, every 3 weeks.

According to a press release sent by a new organization named “Greenpeace on Strike,” many the environmental organization’s canvassers with over 1 year experience regularly raise nearly 6 to 7 times as much money as they are paid. Despite the significant payday for Greenpeace, the organization uses a quota system that doesn’t take into account the lifetime fundraising totals of canvassers. The system runs on a 3 week quota that means that canvassers can be fired for short-time lull in fundraising even if the canvassers’ lifetime totals are still above the 3 week average.

In response to the strike, 16 of the Greenpeace workers in San Diego were delivered with letters of intent to terminate by Greenpeace under a claim of job abandonment. Greenpeace On Strike’s press release claims that these letters are a direct violation of section 7 & 8 of the National Labor Relations Act.

Despite the threatening response by Greenpeace, one of the striking canvassers said “by no means are we doing this to bash Greenpeace. We love Greenpeace, and we are Rainbow Warriors. That’s why we want to make Greenpeace better.”

Regardless of the outcome, it is abundantly clear that despite its leftist political ideology, Greenpeace’s workplace is far from democratic.