This January the San-Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council AFL-CIO overwhelmingly passed a resolution supporting the Green New Deal with strong labor provisions. They hope it will serve as a touchstone to help spark a larger discussion inside the American labor movement.
The resolution notes that “with the support of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, AFL-CIO, California has adopted a goal of 100% renewable and zero-carbon electricity and has demonstrated that clean energy industries can create good, middle-class jobs when linked with collective bargaining agreements.” The resolution lays out a program of strong labor provisions for a Green New Deal. The San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council, AFL-CIO:
supports a Green New Deal that expands collective bargaining and ensures the creation of union jobs through card check neutrality agreements, prevailing wages, project labor agreements, enacting the provisions of the Employee Free Choice Act and requiring direct partnerships with joint labor-management apprenticeship programs; and
supports a Green New Deal prioritizing projects, union career opportunities and investments in working-class, low-income and communities of color historically and disproportionality impacted by pollution, high unemployment, poverty and environmental injustice; and
supports a Green New Deal that includes a fair and equitable Just Transition for workers impacted by a transitioning economy including a fund to provide severance packages, lifetime income, free education and family healthcare; and
supports a Green New Deal that includes Buy America provisions.
will advocate for a Green New Deal with strong labor provisions in concert with our environmental and community partners.
In a commentary on the resolution Jim Miller of the labor council’s Environmental Caucus asks, “So what would a Green New Deal entail and why should working people support it? He quotes “a pithy summary” by Jeremy Brecher and Joe Uehlein of the Labor Network for Sustainability in a recent In These Times piece “12 Reasons Labor Should Demand a Green New Deal”:
The Green New Deal is a program that all trade unionists and advocates for working people can and should get behind.
While there are a variety of detailed proposals for a Green New Deal, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ proposal promises to create millions of jobs through building a new 100%-renewable electrical system and a national “smart grid,” retrofitting residential and industrial buildings, and building a new, low-emission transportation system.
It also seeks to end the epidemic of poverty by mitigating deeply entrenched racial, regional and gender-based inequalities in income and wealth and distributing federal aid and other investment equitably to historically impoverished and marginalized communities.
At its core, the Green New Deal would work toward saving the climate by meeting scientific targets for the reduction of greenhouse gases, investing in the drawdown and capture of greenhouse gases, and making “green” technology a major export of the United States to help other countries transition to carbon-neutral economies.
Brecher and Uehlein go on to outline why labor should robustly support such a program citing the need to avert climate catastrophe, providing jobs for all, abolishing poverty, rebuilding the labor movement, uniting the working class, winning wide support for a labor-friendly program, building a powerful union-friendly coalition, unifying labor and environmental groups, challenging the corporate domination of the Democratic Party, strengthening worker bargaining power, expanding union apprenticeships and training, and establishing a standard for how politicians can claim to be friends of labor.