You are here

movements, unions, and organizations

‘COP28 should be the most important meeting in the history of the world’

By David Hill and Jeremy Brecher - Labor Network for Sustainability, November 30, 2023

British journalist DAVID HILL interviewed Jeremy Brecher in the lead-up to COP28 about why international climate negotiations fail and how a “global nonviolent constitutional insurgency” could be a climate game-changer.

DH: Last year when we were in touch you said you thought COP27 “should be the most important meeting in the history of the world – nothing could be more important than international agreement to meet the climate targets laid out by climate science and agreed to by the world’s governments at the Paris Climate Summit.” Do you feel the same about COP28?

JB: Of course, COP28 should be the most important meeting in the history of the world. That was also true of COP27, COP26 and all the previous COP climate meetings. While they should be producing international agreement to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to zero, the reality is that the decades of international climate conferences have simply legitimated ever rising GHG emissions and ever increasing climate destruction. The idea that it is being hosted by Dubai and chaired by Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber, the head of the United Arab Emirates’s state-owned oil company, represents the height of absurdity – like putting Al Capone in charge of alcohol regulation. Sultan al-Jaber’s letter laying out plans for COP 28 is lacking in ambition to reduce climate destruction. The entire so-called international climate protection process is now controlled by those who hope to gain by climate destruction. A global nonviolent insurgency against the domination of the fossil fuel industry and the governments it controls appears to be the only practical means to counter their plan to destroy humanity.

DH: In other words, COP28 should be the most important meeting in the history of the world, but it’s not going to be. What do you think is the percentage chance of an international agreement to phase out fossil fuels being reached?

JB: The answer to this one is easy: there is zero chance that COP28 will produce an agreement that will actually phase out fossil fuels. The forces that are in control of the governments represented in COP28 represent fossil fuel interests that are intent on continuing and if possible expanding their use. US President Eisenhower once said that the people wanted peace so much that some day the governments would have to get out of their way and let them have it. An international agreement that will actually phase out fossil fuels will come when governments discover that if they want to go on governing they have to let the people have climate safety.

Beating the Climate Clock: Workers, citizens and state action in the UK

By Hillary Wainright - Transnational Institute, February 21, 2024

It’s April 2020. In the UK, the COVID-19 pandemic was at its height. Ventilators were running out. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was calling for ‘Our Great British Companies’ to come to the rescue and manufacture emergency supplies. Apart from existing producers of ventilators, there was little response. But at the Airbus factory in North Wales, the well-organised Unite branch representing over 4,000 workers, took matters into their own hands and, in a matter of weeks, led the conversion of the factory’s research and development facility into an assembly line producing components for up to 15,000 ventilators for the National Health Service (NHS).

‘Without the union’, commented the Unite convenor, Darren Reynolds, ‘it would have been chaos, lots of problems without any procedure to resolve them. We’ve built up a tried and tested organisation and established procedures for solving them’. He cites the all-important role of workers’ elected health and safety representatives in turning the Welsh government-funded Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (part of the Airbus site) into an adapted sterile environment. ‘Our 60 health and safety reps have been able to pre-empt the problems and solve them in advance’, he explains.

In this way, 500 Airbus workers, previously producing aircraft wings, turned their skills to producing ventilator parts, meeting social needs, securing jobs, and strengthening their union organisation in the process.

The organisation of the conversion process, the speed at which it was achieved, and the capacity of the workforce to collaborate to meet the challenge, were impressive. This was largely due to the role of the union branch and its shop stewards who organised the aircraft-turned-ventilator workers and their determination to extend collective bargaining beyond wages and conditions to change the product on which they worked. 

Moreover, in the context of a crisis in the supply of ventilators to meet the needs of COVID patients, and a call from a Conservative Prime Minister for companies to make them, management could hardly resist the union’s public-spirited efforts to find a solution. Finally, and especially significant for today’s climate emergency, this worker-led experience of successful industrial conversion also offers a glimpse of the potential role of workplace trade unions in moving from a high-carbon to low-carbon economy without job losses. At the very least, the experience points to the importance of a well-unionised workplace for the achieving such a transition.

THIS is How EVERY NONPROFIT Should Respond to a Union Campaign

By Union Jake and Adam Keller - Valley Labor Report, February 16, 2024

How Workers and Communities are Fighting to Make Ford be Fair to Tennessee

Unions Must Go Beyond Calling for a Cease-Fire in Gaza

By Jeff Schuhrke - Jacobin, February 13, 2024

Four months into Israel’s brutal assault on Gaza that has killed over twenty-eight thousand Palestinians, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) — the US labor federation whose member unions represent 12.5 million workers — issued a statement on February 8 urging a negotiated cease-fire to end the violence.

The move came after over two hundred US unions and labor bodies — including national unions like the United Electrical Workers (UE), American Postal Workers Union (APWU), United Auto Workers (UAW), International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT), National Nurses United (NNU), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), National Education Association (NEA), Communications Workers of America (CWA), and American Federation of Teachers (AFT) — had already made cease-fire calls of their own. Many unions, especially at the local level, have also expressed solidarity with the Palestinian liberation movement.

With the backing of the AFL-CIO and the nation’s two largest unions (NEA and SEIU), support for a cease-fire is now the mainstream position of the American labor movement. Given US labor officialdom’s history of providing substantial political and material aid to the state of Israel — along with its frequent partnering with US empire (which I examine in my forthcoming book, Blue Collar Empire) — this is a remarkable development highlighting the power of rank-and-file organizing to push union leaders on critical issues, and signaling the possibility of building a more internationalist labor movement.

Now, the task for rank-and-file members who successfully organized to get their unions to issue cease-fire statements increasingly is to translate that commitment into concrete action to stop what the International Court of Justice considers Israel’s plausible acts of genocide. Across the US labor movement, networks of pro-Palestine workers are continuing to organize to get their unions to cut economic ties with Israel, put pressure on political candidates and elected officials, and interrupt the flow of union-made weapons and research to the Israeli military.

That Time When Radical Black and White Southern Farmers Fought the KKK & Government Together

How the Green New Deal from Below Integrates Diverse Constituencies

By Jeremy Brecher - Labor Network for Sustainability, February 2, 2024

Green New Deal initiatives at local, state, regional, and civil society levels around the country have drawn together diverse, sometimes isolated, or even conflicted constituencies around common programs for climate, jobs, and justice. How have they done so?

Transcript Follows:

Bargaining for the Common Good in Minnesota

By staff - Labor Network for Sustainability, January 30, 2024

“Bargaining for the Common Good” has become a crucial strategy for organized labor and a key means of forging broad coalitions for mutual support. For the past decade, unions and allies in Minnesota have developed powerful union and community alignments that have won victories at the bargaining table, in the community, and in the legislature.

In March, the union contracts are expiring for tens of thousands of Minnesota workers, and these allies are organizing in advance to align their demands and narratives.

You can watch a recorded webinar on “Minnesota Community and Labor Escalations” presenting an insider’s look at what it took to build this alignment over the last few decades, and what’s possible in this spring’s escalation. Speakers include Greg Nammacher, President of SEIU Local 26 Jennifer Arnold, Co-Director of Inquilinxs Unidxs por Justicia Veronica Mendez Moore, Co-Director of CTUL Marcia Howard, First Vice President of Minneapolis Federation of Teachers and Educational Support Professionals JaNaé Bates, Director of Communications of ISAIAH Phillip Cryan, Executive Vice President, SEIU Healthcare MN & IA.

Power Lines: Building a Labor-Climate Justice Movement

By staff - Labor Network for Sustainability, January 30, 2024

The just-released anthology Power Lines: Building a Labor-Climate Justice Movement features an article by Maria Brescia-Weiler, LNS project manager for young worker organizing and Liz Ratzloff, LNS co-executive director, titled “Young Workers Can Bridge the Labor and Climate Movements.” They write:

Young workers have already demonstrated leadership on social and economic justice issues. From school climate strikes to nationwide protests against police brutality to recent union drives among the young workforces of Starbucks and Amazon, these workers are actively engaged in political work. But labor has been slow to capture the energy young workers can bring to the movement. […] If the labor movement doesn’t begin to invest in young workers, there is little chance that we will build the power needed to secure an ecologically sustainable and economically just future. Understanding the perspective of young workers is a crucial first step in bringing these workers into the labor movement.

Varshini Prakash, executive director of the Sunrise Movement, says of Power Lines:

The climate movement needs the labor movement to win a just transition. Power Lines is an essential how-to manual for organizers looking for the most creative, visionary, and practical strategies to bridge our movements.

And Frances Fox Piven, author of Challenging Authority: How Ordinary People Change America, says:

This is a book that could brighten your life and stiffen your spine. These experienced and wise organizers search the world we share for the stories of movement uprisings that could spark something big enough to save us yet.

Power Lines is edited by Jeff Ordower and Lindsay Zafir and published by The New Press.

For more information: https://thenewpress.com/books/power-lines

What Workers Want Is a Function of What They Think They Can Get

By Benjamin Fong and Jeremey Brecher - Labor Network for Sustainability, January 30, 2023

Workers in the Great Depression were beaten down but desperate for change. When a militant new labor federation, the Congress of Industrial Organizations, raised their sense of political possibility, they seized the opportunity and unionized en masse.

The following is an interview conducted for Organize the Unorganized: The Rise of the CIO, a Jacobin podcast series produced in collaboration with the Center for Work and Democracy.

Pages

The Fine Print I:

Disclaimer: The views expressed on this site are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) unless otherwise indicated and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s, nor should it be assumed that any of these authors automatically support the IWW or endorse any of its positions.

Further: the inclusion of a link on our site (other than the link to the main IWW site) does not imply endorsement by or an alliance with the IWW. These sites have been chosen by our members due to their perceived relevance to the IWW EUC and are included here for informational purposes only. If you have any suggestions or comments on any of the links included (or not included) above, please contact us.

The Fine Print II:

Fair Use Notice: The material on this site is provided for educational and informational purposes. It may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of scientific, environmental, economic, social justice and human rights issues etc.

It is believed that this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have an interest in using the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. The information on this site does not constitute legal or technical advice.