By Oren Kadosh, LNS staff

Over July 21st and 22nd, the Labor Network for Sustainability hosted a two-day convening in Denver, Colorado entitled: “The State of Transition: Lessons from Colorado and Beyond!” LNS convened labor, climate, environmental justice, and social movement allies to broaden and deepen an understanding of existing just transition efforts and to gain insights on how we can better support labor-climate organizing on the ground. 

Native nations, women in construction, scientists, teachers, Black parents advocating for clean air, ski patrollers, and many others attendees from a range of unions, sectors, and communities came to share their experiences, learn from each other, and educate LNS on critical topics such as: how different types of labor are being affected by the transition; the legacy and continued struggle of Indigenous and frontline organizing for environmental justice; and how public funding to implement green projects is being organized for by unions and community organizations. Union workers and officials from locals representing many sectors of work in Colorado attended, including IBEW, SEIU, AFSCME, LIUNA, SMART-TD, and many more. 

During the convening, it became clear that Colorado workers and surrounding communities have made incredible strides toward a renewable energy economy and a just transition. But it was also clear that there is much left to do, both for transitioning fossil fuel workers, but especially for Indigenous and frontline environmental justice communities still being too often marginalized and their urgent needs delayed. Challenging but important truths were surfaced about the lack of inclusion and meaningful collaboration between the labor movement and the environmental justice movement. As the private sector is infused with billions in taxpayer dollars to boost the energy transition, one big takeaway from the convening has been that de-siloing our movement spaces, and meaningfully addressing the needs of all stakeholding communities, is absolutely critical to building the people power necessary to win the urgent change we need.