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While 350.org Wins, Houston Continues To Be Sacrificed

By Perry Graham - Free Press Houston, November 14, 2014

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.

“Today is an achievement,” announced 350.org founder Bill McKibben in an email Wednesday, refering to an agreement reached this week between the U.S. and China on reducing carbon emissions. McKibben took the opportunity to congratulate himself, his organization, and the participants of the march they organized seven weeks ago. He might as well have posed in front of a “Mission Accomplished” banner.

This agreement likely has little to do with anything 350.org has done. It comes amidst intense jockeying by the two governments in promoting their different proposals for a Pacific-area free trade agreement, as well as a relaxation of tariffs between the two countries. Increasing the number of goods that are shipped halfway around the world before consumption is antithetical to reducing carbon emissions, and free trade agreements are notorious for limiting a country’s capacity to enforce environmental regulations. Taking a look at their track record, the last time 350.org tried to pressure Obama on climate — by showing up at the White House with 40,000 people — Obama spent the weekend golfing with oil executives.

There’s also the disappointing content of the agreement. The U.S. pledged to reduce carbon emissions by 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2025. Five years ago, in the lead up to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting in Copenhagen, the proposal being discussed called for reductions of 25-45% by 2020, and the scientific predictions of the impacts of climate change have only gotten worse since then. Celebrating the reductions the U.S. has agreed to is major backpedaling on McKibben’s part, who has long been an advocate for reduction targets based on climate science. He also calls the agreement “historic” because it is “the first time a developing nation has agreed to eventually limit its emissions.” China has pledged to stop their emissions from growing by 2030; if it actually takes them that long, we’ll likely be locked into runaway climate change (chaos, catastrophe) for the rest of the century.

Wrong Again!

By Steve Ongerth - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, November 6, 2014

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.

Our regular readers know that we tend to be quite critical of the business unions and the big green NGOs for their continued slavish alliance with capitalism, and knowing this, they should not be shocked that--once again--the increasingly ineffectual and coopted Blue Green Alliance is in our sights.

In case you didn't know, the Blue Green Alliance is a coalition of business unions and environmental organizations that ostensibly advocates for building bridges between the labor movement and the environmental movement, with a specific focus towards "green jobs" and "sustainable development". Each year, the alliance issues a "Right Stuff Award" to "business, government, environmental, labor, and community leaders who promote a sustainable economy and environment". This year, they say, their awards will honor "leaders for their work on building a 21st century energy infrastructure."

Based on their choice of Obama's Secretary of Energy, Ernest Moniz, one has to be wondering if the Blue Green Alliance knows what century they're in, or perhaps whether or not the Alliance has an oddball definition of what 21st century infrastructure is, exactly. You see, the last time I checked, Ernest Moniz has deep ties to the fossil fuel, fracking and nuclear industries. He has served on advisory boards for oil giant BP and General Electric, and was a trustee of the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center, a Saudi Aramco-backed nonprofit organization. In 2011, Moniz was the chief author of an influential study for MIT on the future of natural gas. According to a new report by the Public Accountability Initiative, Moniz failed to disclose that he had taken a lucrative position at a pro-drilling firm called ICF International just days before a key natural gas "fracking" study was released.

This doesn't sound very green to me. If anything, it's more like a greenwash. Unfortunately, this is par for the course for the so-called Blue Green Alliance.

BP’s Pink-Washing Campaign

By Naomi Wilkins, Frack Free Manchester - People and Planet, November 10, 2014; image by Ianthe Sinferno

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.

For the last few months, we have faced an onslaught of unpleasant, greenwashing advertising from fossil fuel companies. Shell and their “we’ll keep the lights on when she’s grown up” billboard, featuring a photo of a child reading in bed, complete with an oh-so-ironic polar bear toy on her bedside cabinet and a brief note about their investment in “mixed energy sources”. BP’s sickening, “we’re inspiring young people in our schools to think innovatively” nonsense campaign. And, of course, Southern Electric with their strange and downright confusing ghostly orangutang images. All of these seek draw our attention away from the horrors of fossil fuels to thoughts of sustainability, education and cute children.

But BP’s new campaign is taking these diversion techniques one step further with a pinkwash. A new poster advertises their LGBT specific careers event with large (and environmentally green) text that reads, “I discovered a business that takes pride in all its employees”. This sickening advert is, once again, attempting to paint BP as a friendly, responsible company who do nice things like being “committed to diversity”. But this thin facade quickly crumbles to reveal a company dripping in environmental disaster.

BP’s reckless conduct led to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, named by Obama as “the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced”. It has caused untold destruction to the ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico, as well as harm to human health. And this is merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the havoc BP are wreaking on this planet and its inhabitants.

IWW Workers Take on Whole Foods in SF

By Marc Norton - 48 Hills, November 7, 2014

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.

Three days ago, Bay Area voters raised minimum wages in San Francisco and Oakland. There were also successful campaigns to raise minimum wages in Alaska, Arkansas, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota.

Yesterday, workers at the San Francisco Whole Foods Market at 4th and Harrison Streets took the fight for fair wages to another level.  Early this afternoon, a delegation of workers presented management with a demand for a $5-an-hour across-the-board wage increase for all employees.  Workers at the store currently earn from $11 to $19.25 an hour.

At the call of an air horn, a contingent of workers in the store stopped work and gathered at the café bar near the store’s entrance. Other Whole Foods workers, who were not on duty but who had infiltrated the store, joined them, along with a number of supporters. They then summoned the store manager.  As workers and supporters gathered around, and customers looked on somewhat bewildered, long-time Whole Foods worker Nick announced to the assembled crowd, “We are the Industrial Workers of the World.”

Nick and two other Whole Foods workers, both women, presented their demands for better wages and better treatment: “We are ready to earn enough at this job so that we can quit the other two.” Ryan Rosprim, the store manager, listened patiently, but did not respond.

The workers ended the gathering with a demand for an answer by November 14, when their next paycheck is due. At that, on-the-clock workers returned to their jobs, while the other workers and their supporters exited the store, chanting “Si, Se Puede!”

Outside, workers and supporters conducted a brief rally and picket.

“We are workers at Whole Foods Market building a movement for power and a voice on the job,” reads a petition that had been circulated at the store, signed by more than 50 workers. “This is our movement, we are capable of victory, and we are worth it.”

In addition to demanding the $5 wage increase, the petition raises issues about paid time off, hours and scheduling, safety and health, and a retirement plan.

A leaflet distributed to customers during Thursday’s job action said that a “2014 study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition found that a worker in San Francisco must earn $29.83 an hour just to rent a one bedroom apartment in the City.  Even with a $15 an hour minimum wage on its way [in San Francisco], that is half of what a worker must earn…  It is simply NOT ENOUGH.”

After the rally, the crowd broke into the perennial chant, “We’ll be back!”

California Proposition 1 Passes: The Power of Big Money Overcomes the Power of the People

By Dan Bacher - Indybay, November 5, 2014

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.

Proposition 1, Governor Jerry Brown's $7.5 billion water bond, sailed to easy victory on November 4, as forecasted in a number of polls.

The election results show how the power of millions of dollars of corporate money in the corrupt oligarchy of California were able to defeat a how a grassroots movement of fishermen, environmentalists, Indian Tribes and family farmers opposed to Prop. 1.

The Hoopa Valley, Yurok, Winnemem Wintu and Concow Maidu Tribes, the defenders of California's rivers and oceans for thousands of years, strongly opposed Prop. 1. because of the threat the bond poses to water, salmon and their culture. (http://www.indybay.org/...)

Prop. 1 proponents, including a rogue's gallery of oil companies, corporate agribusiness tycoons, Big Tobacco, health insurance companies and greedy billionaires, dumped over $16.4 million into the campaign, while Prop. 1 opponents raised around $100,000 for the effort. In other words, the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign outmatched the No on Prop. 1 campaign by a factor of 164 to 1.

In a state and country where corporations have the same rights as people, the political game is rigged so that Goliath is usually able to defeat David. The state's voters, responding to the avalanche of pro-Prop. 1 ads funded by corporate interests, approved the measure by a vote of 66.77 percent to 33.23 percent.

Walmart’s Dirty Energy Secret: How the Company’s Slick Greenwashing Hides its Massive Coal Consumption

By Stacy Mitchell and Walter Wuthmann - Institute for Local Self reliance, November 2014

In October 2014, at an event broadcast live from Walmart’s Arkansas headquarters, the company’s top executives took the stage to extol its environmental leadership. The announcements they made that day would be covered widely by the press, including the Boston Globe, Guardian, and New York Times.

The event opened with a video listing Walmart’s achievements over the preceding months: “We signed our largest multi-state solar power purchase agreement,” the narrator says, over a shot of workers installing new, glossy solar panels. “We were recognized by President Obama for announcing that we will double the number of on-site solar energy projects.” Then Walmart’s CEO, Doug McMillon, and its vice president of sustainability, Manuel Gomez, addressed the crowd. “You get one point for launching a goal,” said Gomez, “and nine points for execution... and what you saw in the video is exactly what we’re doing: executing against these goals.”

But off the stage and out in the real world, Walmart’s sustainability initiatives are heavy on admiration-inducing goals and astonishingly light on execution. Nearly a decade ago, the company pledged to shift to 100 percent renewable energy and acknowledged its responsibility to reduce its climate emissions as quickly as possible. Today, however, Walmart remains as deeply committed as ever to the dirtiest fuels, especially coal. It derives only 3 percent of its U.S. electricity from its renewable energy projects, down from 4 percent two years ago.

In this first-of-its-kind analysis, ILSR provides new information about Walmart’s energy mix and environmental footprint. We calculate the total electricity use, coal-fired power consumption, and resulting carbon emissions of every Walmart store and distribution center in the country in 2013. We also evaluate the company’s renewable energy projects, finding that they are too small and located in the wrong places to have much of an impact on Walmart’s coal use and climate emissions.

Our analysis finds that Walmart’s electricity consumption entails burning a staggering amount of coal: 4.2 million tons a year. That’s enough to give every kid in America a stocking filled with 126 pounds of the sooty stuff as a holiday present. Or, to measure it another way: If you dumped coal on a football field, you’d have to pile it 35 feet high, from end-zone to end-zone, just to power Walmart’s U.S. stores for one week. Walmart sources more of its electricity from coal (40 percent) than the U.S. as a whole (39 percent) — a remarkable fact for a company that has touted its environmental responsibility for years. Indeed, we find that Walmart alone consumes 0.5 percent of all the electricity produced from coal in U.S., a stunning figure given the size of the entire national economy and population.

Read the report (PDF).

Progressive Union Busting

By The Angry Syndicalist - October 9, 2014

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.

Grassroots Campaigns Inc is in the process of being unionized by the newly formed United Campaign Workers who have canvassed for the progressive non-profit organization. The canvassers have been denied paychecks owed by the organization and have been running a campaign for the regulation and restoration of hemp. Apparently these progressives have bounced checks before as well, since management wasn't willing to discuss these problems, the workers walked off the job.

The UCW was formed in concert with the help of the IWW. A phone blast was the first response to the liberal organization, with supporters calling in for the UCW. The demands were simple, $15.00 an hour and the overtime pay they were owed. When these were handed in to the director, he apparently thought the word grassroots and the IWW were strangers, naivety abound.

The campaign has been gathering signatures for I-21, the Oregon Cannabis Amendment, which would end all legal penalties for marijuana products and extend growing permissions to Oregonians. It’s paired with the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act, I-22, which would override existing laws to create a new regulatory framework and funnel money from marijuana sales into state programs.

The crew pulls 600 signatures a day and it would make sense since they are in favor of the campaign they'd be brought back to work? No. The canvassers have support in the community in the form of Jobs for Justice and other union members.

Nonprofits have been using methods normally reserved for the conservative wing of liberal politics to bust unions i.e. Sisters Camelot, which has left a sour taste in many Wobblies mouths. Who resorted to a lawyer whose goal was to destroy the union, despite the fact the NLRB recognized them as workers.

I do not put it past progressives to have the not in my backyard mentality if it affects them. So much so, they hired scabs who ironically were offered $15.00 an hour. Since then the workers have done what they can to get management back to the bargaining table, including demanding enough dignity from the work they perform in the payment of bonuses so they can feed their children.

A confused liberal called this heteronormative, however I question if this liberal has ever had to starve before.

Part II: Boston Wobblies in Solidarity.

GCI has had their reputation for union busting spread throughout the local community in Boston(where their HQ is). Their quotas were unrealistic and union busting isn't a thing a labor democrat would do would they? Anyways, they resorted to hiring private security who were too cowardly to show their faces to the world.

Grassroots Campaigns was founded in December 2003. By April 2004 Grassroots Campaigns had opened offices in 40 cities throughout the country. By July 2004 they had over 2,000 staff knocking on doors and fund raising on behalf of the  Democratic National Committee With continued work on behalf of MoveOn PAC to run "Leave No Voter Behind," (LNVB). This was a "get out the vote" (GOTV) program intended to give Democratic candidate John Kerry an edge in the swing states. 

Grassroots Campaigns, Inc clients are a who's who for those who like to name drop, from the ACLU to the SPLC to the Sierra Club. It's one big club and the canvassers aren't in it. Praise be to the liberal elite with college degrees and Starbucks addictions.

Promises! Promises! Promises!

By Joe Womack - Bridge the Gulf, October 6, 2014

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.

Back in the 60's I could always tell when election time was near. First, city equipment would show up to clean the streets and clear out vacant lots. Then the politician would make an appearance at the Elks and buy a round of drinks for everyone in the place. The next day he would sponsor a chicken and fish fry for the community. At the height of the community outing he would make a speech. That speech would always promise everything but deliver nothing.

One thing I have learned over time is numbers never lie. During the late 1960's through the mid-1970's there existed a large governmental project to widen and deepen the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, which stretches 234 miles to connect the Tennessee River to the Tombigbee River in Alabama. It was a multi-million dollar project that most Northern politicians considered a waste of government money. However, the Southern politicians banned together and yelled “jobs, jobs, jobs!” They argued that completion of this project would mean jobs for years to come for Alabama and Tennessee residents. They said that this project would take business away from the Mississippi River and barges would run up and down the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway 24/7/365. In addition, they said that Mobile would be the “New Atlanta. That the completion of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway project would do for Mobile the same thing that the completion of the International Atlanta Airport did for the economy of Atlanta, when it turned Atlanta into the "economic hub of the south".

At that time I was in college in Virginia and upon graduation spent time in the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia near Washington, D.C. For six years living near the nation’s capital, I followed the national debate about the Tenneessee-Tombigbee Waterway. When my active duty period ended, I listed three places I wanted to live, all in the South: Mobile, Alabama; Atlanta, Georgia; and Huntsville, Alabama, in that order. Mobile was at the top of the list because it was home and also because I believed promises made by politicians from my hometown. I listed Atlanta next because Atlanta was becoming the place to be. Good jobs, good people and good fun. Huntsville was next because I had friends there and they all had good jobs. NASA had moved there and so had Hughes and Boeing Aircraft Companies as well as other Fortune 500 Companies. I arrived back in Mobile on a Friday. I spent the entire weekend partying with my high school friends and learned that a position was available with the company that my best friend was employed with. He told me to give him one day to talk to personnel, put on a suit and tie and come for an interview on Tuesday. I did and went to work on Wednesday. That job and company had nothing to do with the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. The plant had been constructed years before the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway had begun. The jobs promised from the Waterway did not materialize for my community.

It became a running joke that the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway was “the biggest man-made fishing hole in the United States”. Today, there are places along the waterway where you can barely get one barge through, let along barges traveling in opposite directions. The Mississippi River is still considered the waterway of choice for barges traveling north to south and vice-versa. Politicians that pushed that project through got their rewards and are now living the “life of Riley” in retirement. Construction jobs were available during the 10-year project, however those jobs all went away with the completion of the project. A project considered to be a job creator must create jobs that are sustainable years after project completion.

Jersey Open Space Measure Cannibalizes Parks & Eco-Programs: Zeros Out Park Maintenance Money and Forces Layoffs in Waste & Water Programs

By Kirsten Stade - Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, October 6, 2014

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.

Trenton — A November ballot measure would amend the New Jersey constitution to siphon $10 billion out of park facilities maintenance as well as toxic site cleanup and state water infrastructure over the next 30 years solely to finance real estate purchases for open space. Billed as a “green” proposition, it would devastate bread and butter environmental programs while lining the pockets of some key proponents, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

With little debate about the impacts of the diversion of funds, the New Jersey Legislature placed a proposed constitutional amendment, the Open Space Preservation Funding Amendment, Public Question No. 2 on the November 4, 2014 ballot. It would direct a portion of corporate business tax revenues to open space, farmland and historic preservation from 2016 to 2045. To pay for that reallocation it would end the current dedication of corporate business tax revenues to environmental programs. Specifically it would:

  • Strip State Parks & Historic Sites of their current ability to fund capital projects, such as building or repairing restrooms, roads, bridges and other projects. Dedicated funding would fall from $32 million per year to zero. There is currently a $400 million backlog of repairs, new construction and improvements to existing facilities in state parks and historic sites;
  • Cut funding for state water resources programs and projects by two thirds, from $15 million a year currently down to $5 million; and
  • Slash hazardous waste cleanup programs by more than half, from the current $53 million a year to $25 million.

“This is utterly irresponsible eco-policy cynically masquerading as an investment in our future,” stated New Jersey PEER Director Bill Wolfe, pointing out that it will likely trigger layoffs of state Department of Environmental Protection staff working in both waste and water programs. “Green Acres and open space preservation are good ideas but not to the exclusion of everything else.”

The measure is touted as a rebuke to the Christie administration which has allowed open space funds to run dry. This retaliatory diversion of funds locked into the state constitution smacks of overkill, however.

Ironically, after new open spaces are purchased they are usually handed over to State Parks to maintain, creating an ever-growing unfunded backlog. Adding insult to injury, some of the new open space funding would support “Stewardship” schemes that include commercial logging of state lands. In addition, a portion of funds may be used for salaries and expenses of groups that arrange open space purchases.

“This measure subsidizes a galling amount of self-dealing real estate deals” added Wolfe, noting that supporters label themselves the “Keep It Green Coalition.” “Some Keep It Green members are also focused on the green in their wallets.”

Can New York Create Affordable Housing That’s Also Environmentally Sustainable?

By Michelle Chen - The Nation, September 24, 2014

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.

At the moment of silence during Sunday’s People’s Climate March, a deep hush washed over Sixth Avenue, symbolizing a growing, worldwide commitment to fighting climate change. Yet the moment also recalled the aftermath of the city’s most recent climate catastrophe, Superstorm Sandy, when Manhattan’s mighty skyline was for several days stunned into an eerie stillness by nature’s ire.

But on Sunday, the city put a more positive spin on the connection between the global environmental struggle and the local disaster of Sandy. Mayor Bill de Blasio tried to make good on his campaign vow to address the underlying climate-change problems Sandy exposed, starting with a retooling of the city’s buildings.

The “One City, Built to Last” plan aims to slash building-based greenhouse gas emissions and boost the economy simultaneously. Overall, the plan promises to bring “$8.5 billion in energy cost-savings over ten years.” The long-term goal is to cut total emissions by 80 percent by 2050. Buildings contribute a large majority of local carbon pollution, and the plan would “cut energy use across all building sectors on average by at least 60 percent from 2005 levels and switch to renewable fuel sources.”

Many of the changes outlined in the 110-page blueprint are basic. In contrast to the sexy tech-driven solutions like electric cars and flashy rooftop photovoltaics, the de Blasio administration and City Council members are focusing on nuts-and-bolts efficiency projects to expand “green collar” job sectors.

The plan would in the immediate term “generate approximately 3,500 new jobs in construction and energy services,” according to Amy Spitalnick, a spokesperson for the mayor’s office. Modest numbers, but the main goal is putting the city’s infrastructure on a greener and more equitable development path.

Matt Ryan, executive director of the advocacy group ALIGN-NY, tells The Nation that the plan reflects a “need to think about dealing with climate change in a way that not only addresses the root causes, such as carbon emissions, but also addresses jobs and economic issues that are related.”

Some of the proposed initiatives include a “retrofit accelerator” program for an estimated 20,000 private buildings, about 40 percent of them public housing or rent stabilized. Public school buildings, firehouses, hospitals, police stations and homeless shelters would get energy-saving retrofits and lighting upgrades, and fixed up with clean technologies. The city would install solar panels “on more than 300 city buildings, generating 100MW of energy over the next decade.” The plan would link green building projects to the broader agenda of controlling housing costs: less energy consumption means lower utility bills, which “will make it easier for people to afford to live in New York City” and “invest in other capital upgrades to improve the quality of our housing stock.”

But the plan doesn’t spell out exactly how the city will push the private sector to invest in efficiency and renewables. The report focuses on voluntary programs, and the administration has for now avoided proposing strict mandates for carbon reductions, relying instead on seeding environmental business incentives (though mandates may be “triggered” later if needed). The administration advocates, for example, providing “green grants” that tie affordable-housing goals with eco-friendly construction, “which would fund efficiency upgrades in exchange for regulatory agreements to preserve affordability.”

Nonetheless, progressive groups are wary of leaving too much of the plan to market forces. Though some landlords may respond to green incentives because it makes business sense, Ryan says, given the ambitious emissions targets, “There is no way we’re going to move fast enough through a voluntary system, to meet the urgency of the climate crisis.”

Some progressive labor advocates fear that the workforce initiatives may not be ambitious enough, either. The Center for an Urban Future (CUF), which has pushed the administration to expand jobs programs for disadvantaged youth, warns that although green jobs could benefit struggling young workers, they need more comprehensive job training and placement services.

Read the entire article: here

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