Above: “We are Climate Warriors Local Union 1!,” LNS President Joe Uehlein (left) said as he opened his speech at the December 13, Fire Drill Friday in front of Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Pictured right is Ira Arlook, Chief of Advocacy Campaigns at Fenton Communications.

On December 13, trade unionists and supporters demonstrated at the U.S. Capitol for “Good Jobs for a Green Future”—and then sat down and were arrested for refusing to leave and end their protest. The civil disobedience action was part of “Fire Drill Fridays,” a weekly series led by Jane Fonda. The December 13 action for “Jobs, Communities, & Just Transitions” was partially organized by the Labor Network for Sustainability and many participants in the network participated in the action. Jane’s fellow actor and “dear friend” Sally Field also spoke, recounting the labor struggles of Norma Rae, whom Field played in the eponymous film. Sally also participated in the civil disobedience.

Above: Clint Sobratti, a bus driver in Montgomery County, Maryland and member of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1994, enthralled attendees at the December 13, Fire Drill Friday. Clint described his day-to-day experiences of working through pollution to ensure public transit riders of all ages arrived to their destinations on time and safely; he called for the critical need for a solid just transition plan to protect workers and communities in the badly needed shift from fossil-fuel powered public transit to buses and trains that rely on clean, renewable energy.


A teach-in the night before featured LNS Executive Director Michael Leon Guerrero as well as Winona LaDuke, Samantha Smith, and Jane Fonda (check out the LNS Facebook page for highlights and the interview) (more details below). The call for the teach-in said:

The climate emergency requires us to rapidly transform our energy system and key industrial sectors in many ways – and it is up to all of us to ensure this is done in a way that benefits workers and communities. If we do this right, transforming our energy systems and industrial base can and will create millions of good union jobs that provide a living wage, full benefits, a safe workplace and the right to collective bargaining.  

Above: In Washington, D.C., on Thursday, December 12, 2019, LNS Executive Director Michael Leon Guerrero, participated in Jane Fonda’s Thursday Night Teach-In on Jobs, Communities and Just Transitions with Winona LaDuke, Honor the Earth (far left), and Samantha Smith, Just Transition Centre (second to right).

Particular care must be taken to support transition policies and programs for those workers and communities that depend on the fossil fuel industry. Workers in coal, oil and gas gave much—often their health—to power our country and create prosperity, and we owe them respect and fairness in this transition. A truly just transition will include wage guarantees for displaced workers, pension guarantees, health insurance benefits for their entire families and additional financial support and programs for those who choose to relocate or acquire the skills necessary for making the transition. 

It is true that climate change is an enormous challenge,  but responding to it provide us the opportunity to rebuild many things in our society and this time, we can do it right. A bold new economic and environmental legislative and cabinet-level agenda with investments in 21st century industries and infrastructure can ensure the transition off fossil fuels will be good for the climate, good for the economy and good for workers and communities.

Fire Drill Fridays at the U.S. Capitol wrapped up the initial phase of actions with a large rally on January 10, with some 150 people being arrested on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, demanding that fossil fuel corporations and their financial sponsors be held accountable for the climate crisis they are creating. Starting in February 2020, Fire Drill Fridays will be held in Los Angeles and other cities across the nation—focusing on Fridays for climate action in solidarity with youth around the world who have been sounding the alarm that “Our House is On Fire – Join Us in the Streets.” More information can be found at: www.firedrillfridays.com

See more photos »