by Michael Leon Guerrero, LNS Executive Director
Here at the Labor Network for Sustainability we are very excited about the the Green New Deal (GND). The resolution introduced in Congress by Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey in the Senate has already sparked intense debate, controversy and enthusiasm – just as it should.
The GND opens the door for millions of people to embrace and struggle over the first real aspirational proposal that will confront the climate crisis, economic inequality and historic social injustices at the same time.
Some critics say that the bill tries to do too much – the reality is these issues need to be addressed hand-in-hand. Single-payer healthcare, which also started as an aspirational idea is continuing to gain traction as policy.
We need to leverage the growing popularity of the GND as an opportunity for us to start a conversation with our communities – beyond our own memberships. People should be asking us what the GND is about. People should be asking why we need one. People should be talking about their concerns and give their opinions about how to strengthen it to be a true blueprint for a climate safe and just economy.
We should be organizing conversations in union halls, community centers, churches and online. We need to build the momentum and political power for the idea at the grassroots. Just as the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council in California, SEIU Locals 32BJ in New York and 1021 in San Francisco, and IBEW Local 103 Business Manager Lou Antonellis in Dorchester, MA are doing.
There will certainly be much debate and struggle over the actual policies that will make up the GND in 2020 – but it can and must be informed by a bottom-up process. Even if it doesn’t pass we can move the conversation to another level and build power around the solutions we need and not what some believe we have to settle for. I hope that we would all consider this effort “ours.” Ours to fight for, ours to fight over and ours to win!