California Labor for Climate Jobs coalition members in Sacramento May 8, 2024. Photo credit Brooke Anderson

by LNS California Organizer Veronica Wilson

California Labor for Climate Jobs held their first ever Lobby Day in Sacramento, California in early May, calling for the California Worker Climate Bill of Rights. The coalition of 15 unions represents more than one million workers across the state, organizing for a worker-led transition to a just and climate-safe economy.

Standing together in the gardens of the State Capitol, unionists from 10 or more industries including food packing, education, oil and gas, auto manufacturing, caregiving, and public services were joined by labor and immigrant rights champion Sen. Maria Elena Durazo (Los Angeles) and environmental justice leader Sen. Lena Gonzalez  (Long Beach). UFCW Western States Council Executive Director Amber Parish noted that “The current poverty and pollution economy is failing working people, and the fundamental life systems we rely on…Now is the time to push for worker-focused climate solutions.” California Federation of Teachers president Jeff Freitas spoke about the proposed Climate Resilient Schools Act (SB1182), urging,

Schools need to be safe from excess heat, many heat days in a row, poor air quality…in places like the Central Valley… and from smoke because we’re seeing unprecedented fires in this state. We’re fighting to improve our schools throughout our state, for our students, for our communities and for all the workers there.

Donna Hearth of United Steelworkers Local 5 told a devastating story of Jerome Serrano, a process operator who was critically burned in an explosion last year at the Marathon Martinez refinery, recently converted to biofuels, underscoring urgency to pass AB3258, calling for safety in all refineries, no matter the feedstock. Union leaders from the manufacturing sector voiced their urgency for SB1375, establishing a set-aside fund for workforce development in federal- and state-funded climate investments and workers’ access to training records.

In nearly 40 legislative office visits, union members talked about their workplace experiences in a changing climate and urgency to support CLCJ’s policy priorities. The press event was posted on CLCJ’s Facebook page and the day of action was covered in the CalMatters newsletterCalifornia News Service, and on the Pacifica Evening News.