Powershift is a network that mobilize the collective power of young people to mitigate climate change and create a just, clean energy future and resilient, thriving communities for all. In April a Powershift Convergence brought together thousands of climate and social justice activists in Bvlbancha/New Orleans. Diego Valerio, a first-year apprentice in IBEW Local 716 in Houston, Texas who has been organizing worker-led campaigns with the Texas Climate Jobs Project and who has been active with the Labor Network for Sustainability’s Young Worker Project, provides theses reflections on the Convergence:
I attended the latest Powershift Convergence alongside other union workers, LNS staff, and other allies to discuss and learn about the intersection of labor, youth, and environmental justice organizing with resilience in the Gulf South. Workers from the building trades and educator unions facilitated programming to center the idea that prioritizing the well-being of workers is essential when considering a green transition, and to uplift the need for a just transition.
Participants from organized labor encouraged other participants to think more concretely about ensuring that those who are most vulnerable to job losses or other detrimental impacts are supported, particularly through adequate training and education to transition workers into green jobs. They also advocated that the jobs created in the green transition are unionized, and to create social safety nets for those who are unable to transition to new opportunities.
Those at the bottom are often the ones who face the most significant challenges and consequences, and their involvement and empowerment can generate a greater impact. At Powershift I had the opportunity to interact with many inspiring individuals whose passion and commitment to making a positive impact left a lasting impression on me. I am grateful for these experiences and am determined to contribute to the movement in any way I can going forward.