According to the leading environmental publication Grist, “In 2023, organized labor became core to the climate movement.”

2023 was marked by symbiosis between the labor and climate movements. Workers across industries and geographies loudly declared that a world in which their safety and well-being are disregarded is even more dangerous to them and to others in a time of energy transition and climate crisis. After decades of hesitancy, several major unions recognized an urgent need to organize those who will do the hard work of decarbonizing the nation’s economy.”

The article by Katie Myers, Grist Climate Solutions Fellow, noted that, as public opinion and public policy have shifted in favor of organized labor, “calls for a just transition rattled union halls and corporate offices” as “organized labor enjoyed one of its most active years in recent memory” and “environmental organizations, long uncertain about where unions stood, found new allies.

The article describes numerous examples of union fights for climate protection. The reality of a warming world was a central concern for UPSAmazon, and airport workers who demanded protection from extreme heat. And the UAW made a just transition a key demand in their strike against the auto Big Three. At the same time, “Environmental organizations became vocally supportive of labor this year, with Sierra Club, Greenpeace, and others supporting the UAW’s calls for a just EV transition.”

The article quotes J. Mijin Cha, an environmental studies professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz and a co-author of the LNS report “Workers and Communities in Transition”: “The UAW strike showed the vision a lot of people have been looking for.”

For the full article:

For the LNS report “Workers and Communities in Transition”: