[By Joe Uehlein and Jeremy Brecher]
In 1940, as Nazi armies marched across Europe, United Automobile Workers Union (UAW) president Walter Reuther made a stunning proposal: Retool the Depression-ravaged auto industry to build 500 planes a year for national defense. Many scoffed. But a huge wartime mobilization put tens of millions of unemployed and underemployed workers to work producing what the war effort required, while shutting down wasteful and unnecessary production that would detract from it.
This May, the level of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere reached 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in human history. (more…)
[By Jeremy Brecher, Labor Network for Sustainability]
American workers need jobs. They also need protection from chemicals and pollutants that threaten their lives, health, environment, climate, and future. Gina McCarthy, President Barack Obama’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, has a unique track record in protecting the environment in ways that also protect and expand jobs.
For the past four years as head of the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, Gina McCarthy has exemplified protection of the environment based on US laws and scientific facts combined with common sense strategies to ensure that such regulation promotes rather than hurts jobs. (more…)
[by Jeremy Brecher]
It happens over and over again. A company proposes some big project, environmentalists oppose it, but unions say it will create jobs. Or a government agency proposes new regulations, environmentalists say it will halt pollution, but unions say it will destroy jobs. The result is billed as a conflict of “jobs vs. the environment.” The Keystone XL Pipeline, the “beyond coal” campaign, the fracking battle, and EPA regulation of greenhouse gasses under the Clean Air Act have all been treated as examples of that story. For those who want to overcome this division – to tell a different story — here are five levels at which it can be challenged: (more…)
By Joe Uehlein
The approach of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22 provides us an opportunity to reflect on the “long, strange trip” shared by the environmental movement and the labor movement over four decades here on Spaceship Earth.
A billion people participate in Earth Day events, making it the largest secular civic event in the world. But when it was founded in 1970, according to Earth Day’s first national coordinator Denis Hayes, “Without the UAW, the first Earth Day would have likely flopped!”
Less than a week after he first announced the idea for Earth Day, Senator Gaylord Nelson presented his proposal to the Industrial Union Department of the AFL-CIO. Walter Ruther, President of the UAW, enthusiastically donated $2000 to help kick the effort off – to be followed by much more. (more…)