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Climate Strike

Heat Strike: Workplace temperature and Climate Justice

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:

Our Strategy for Avoiding Total Catastrophe

By collective - Earth Strike UK, October 2023

Our mission is to achieve a world in which humanity is not in constant competition with itself or with the environment, to halt the rapid deterioration of our biosphere and to live in a world that is not on the brink of ecological collapse. In order to do that we must end capitalism and all other forms of oppression and exploitation which are the cause of injustice and threaten the stability and viability of our environment.

We believe that collectively we have the ability to bring about that better world through the power of organised labour and the application of industrial action. Through strikes, occupations and other forms of industrial action over environmental issues in our own workplaces we can have a direct, tangible impact on the trajectory of our climate. By employing those same tactics on a massive scale, across industries and across countries, we can launch a direct challenge to capitalism and the institutions that are driving the climate and ecological crisis.

With this in mind, we aim to promote, support or initiate general strikes for the climate nationally and internationally, as well as employ industrial action in defence of the climate more generally, and to create foundations of solidarity and mutual struggle on which we can build a better and more sustainable society.

However, organising a general strike for the climate is no easy task. We could simply set a date and call a strike but without a broad base of support, a mandate given by all of the people actually striking, it is unlikely that enough people would be willing to take the risk and participate. To be able to build a general strike that is actually effective there are a few things that need to happen first. It is not enough to simply mobilise, first we must organise!

There are several conditions that need to be met for a general strike for the climate to become a viable option in the struggle for climate justice. These conditions do not necessarily need to be fulfilled directly by Earth Strike UK. Our aim is not to be the banner under which all action should be taken, but to facilitate and encourage action that moves us towards a general strike. In fact, it is better if these conditions are fulfilled by a variety of groups, organisations and movements working independently and in parallel with one another, as this will lead to a more broad, dynamic and robust movement. There are several elements to our strategy.

None of them are mutually exclusive and any action that reinforces one is likely to reinforce others. Importantly, each strand of our strategy is also an end in itself; each will individually improve the world in a tangible way, even if they can’t all be brought together to materialise a general strike.

Download a copy of this publication here (PDF).

Labor Rise at End Fossil Fuels Demo

By Ted Franklin - Labor Rise, September 18, 2023

Labor Network for Sustainability contingent at Sacramento, California climate emergency demonstration. Credit: Ted Franklin CC-BY-NC-4.0

Labor Rise members helped organize a contingent of rank-and-file union members to join hundreds of other demonstrations in the End Fossil Fuels march and rally in Sacramento, California, on Sunday, September 17, 2023. We marched under the banner of Labor Network for Sustainability, a national organization building Labor/Climate movement solidarity. The Sacramento action was one of many in the United States during the international week of action to end fossil fuels. In New York City, where the United Nations gathered for meetings on climate, 75,000 people marched.

In Sacramento, where hundreds gathered, Labor Rise member Martha Hawthorne spoke on behalf of Labor Network for Sustainability:

Amazon Strikes as a Climate Justice issue; Trade Union briefing

'Festival of Climate Resistance': Tens of Thousands Celebrate 'The Big One' in UK on Earth Day

By Jon Queally - Common Dreams, April 22, 2023

"As the government continues to fan the flames of the climate and biodiversity crisis it's clear that only a collective effort can put it out," said the head of Greenpeace UK.

Tens of thousands demonstrated with a defiant yet jubilant spirit in London on Saturday to mark the second day of 'The Big One' climate protests aimed at getting the U.K. government to finally take bold action on the planetary emergency of greenhouse gas emissions.

A nonviolent die-in action was held outside Parliament, but the day of demonstration was billed as a "family-friendly" day of action meant to foster inclusion and participation as opposed to disruption or civil disobedience.

The first signs of an ecological class struggle in Germany

By Franziska Heinisch and Julia Kaiser - Progressive International, March 31, 2023

On 3 March 2023, on the occasion of the global climate strike, a special political alliance took to the streets in Germany: side-by-side, climate activists and public transport workers went on strike. In at least 30 cities, climate activists visited workers’ pickets and brought them along for joint demonstrations. According to Fridays for Future, a total of 200,000 people participated in the nation-wide protests.

The way employers reacted showed that this alliance of workers and climate activists is a potential threat to the ruling class. Steffen Kampeter, CEO of the Confederation of German Employers (BDA), publicly denounced them on the morning of the joint strike day as “a dangerous crossing of the line”. He said that the German service union ver.di was blurring the lines between strikes for collective bargaining and general political concerns, thereby entering the terrain of political strikes. To the delight of campaigners, this accusation contributed to the fact that the joint strike dominated the news that day.

This unity between the labour and climate movement was long overdue: a wider and more affordable public transport system is one of the central measures to achieve socially just climate protection. However, the mobility transition in Germany has so far been made impossible: many employees in local transport work in shifts under terrible conditions and barely make ends meet — with salaries just above the minimum wage. Many therefore decide to quit their jobs. There is already a shortage of tens of thousands of drivers. And this problem will only get worse in the coming years. At the same time, ticket prices are rising steadily and the passenger transport systems, especially in rural areas, are thinned out.

'Tomorrow Is Too Late': Climate Strikers Target Fossil Fuel Financing Worldwide

By Jessica Corbett - Common Dreams, March 3, 2023

"The capitalistic system continuously puts profit over people," says Fridays for Future. "The Global North's fossil finance is the cause of the climate crisis, neocolonial exploitation, wars, and human rights violations."

"It's time to end fossil finance because #TomorrowIsTooLate!"

That's the takeaway message from climate strikers who took to the streets worldwide on Friday to demand an immediate end to the financing of all fossil fuel projects amid a worsening global emergency largely driven by coal, gas, and oil.

"The capitalistic system continuously puts profit over people," the youth-led Fridays for Future movement said in a statement. "Corporations' greed for more profit is driving the destruction of ecosystems and the climate. At the same time, frontline communities are paying the highest price while being the most affected by the climate crisis."

Young Workers’ Trajectory of Climate Consciousness

By staff - Labor Network for Sustainability, February 2023

The Young Worker Listening Project interviewed 70 young workers in all parts of the country about the ways climate change impacts how they do and think about work, and how their work informs their understanding of the climate crisis and potential solutions. They ranged from 16-year-olds who were just starting to think about what kind of work they might do to 35-year-olds with 20 years experience as construction workers, government employees, teachers, and nonprofit workers.

Many young workers shared common trajectories in developing their consciousness around climate change. While most interviewees never received formal education about workers and unions, almost everyone shared memories of learning about climate change as children. Folks talked about recycling and measuring their carbon footprints; watching An Inconvenient Truth; and seeing the news about Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. Many of them perceived that the scale of the solutions they were being offered didn’t match the scale of the crises they were witnessing. Learning about climate change through the lens of individual responsibility often led to an understanding that urgent action must be taken – combined with feelings of anxiety and depression and a general sense of paralysis.

Generational consciousness-shaping events came up over and over again: 9/11 and the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan; the Great Recession and the Occupy movement; direct action at Standing Rock in 2016, at the Trump Inauguration on J20, in the Youth Climate Strikes, and during the George Floyd uprisings.

Economic and environmental uncertainty have been the backdrop of young workers’ entire lives, and they have an intuitive understanding of how deeply linked these issues are to each other, as well as to issues of racial inequality, militarism and imperialism, and gender equity.

This has led many young workers to seek out education about and participation in collective action. They are seeking economic stability, a sense of community, and the opportunity to effect political change, and have realized worker activism and union participation can provide avenues for achieving all of these at once. This is the foundation of a shared and unrelentingly intersectional analysis that has brought many young workers to the Young Worker Project and on which we hope to build deeper coordination for a powerful labor-climate movement.

Labour and the Global Climate Strike: An interview with Nigel Barriffe

By Spencer Bridgman and Nigel Barriffe - Spring, September 20, 2022

For thousands of years, Indigenous Peoples across Turtle Island have cared for and protected the land and water we all rely on. This is especially true in settler-colonial Canada, where Indigenous Peoples have always been at the forefront of the climate justice movement. Two recent examples of this is the work of the Wet’suwet’en People and the Keepers of the Water. Their calls for climate justice have been amplified in recent years through the blossoming of Fridays for Future: a youth-led, international movement demanding immediate action to address the climate crisis. Under this banner, student strikes have been held across the globe, from Tokyo to Tehran to Toronto. 

This year, a Global Climate Strike is taking place on September 23 and Fridays for Future TO is leading the Toronto action. A number of groups are joining the strike in solidarity, including a Labour and Allies Contingent, who are meeting at Steelworkers Hall, 25 Cecil St. at 12:30pm and will unite with the main march at Queen’s Park at 2pm. 

Spring Magazine spoke to labour organizer and elementary school teacher Nigel Barriffe about the climate strike and the many intersections between the labour and climate justice movements. Nigel is active in a number of roles including as Vice President of the Elementary Teachers of Toronto, President at the Urban Alliance on Race Relations, and a board member at the Canadian Anti-Hate Network and Good Jobs For All


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