The Center for Global Work and Employment, Labor Education Action Research Network (LEARN) and Center for Environmental Justice at Colorado State University have recently sponsored a virtual discussion on the Just Transition Listening Project (JTLP)’s 2021 report Workers and Communities in Transition. You can watch the recording online on LEARN-TV.Watch the Recording
Authors and JTLP Organizing Committee members J. Mijin Cha (Occidental College),Vivian Price (California State University Dominguez Hills), Dimitris Stevis (Colorado State) and Todd E. Vachon (Rutgers) introduce the JTLP’s work and present the report’s main findings and answer questions from the audience. The report, which was conducted in partnership with the Labor Network for Sustainability underscores a critical point in the shift to much needed climate policies: Workers and their communities must not be left behind in the transition to a green economy and in fact, their role in the process of developing a just transition is critical to making it work fairly.
The major findings of this report derive from more than 100 listening sessions, including qualitative interviews and focused discussion groups with workers and community members from across the United States conducted between May and October of 2020. Several themes emerged through these sessions, including a more complete picture of what transition entails, how coalitions come together, and what pathways to a just future exist. Among its main findings:
- Transitions are inevitable and constantly happening across the economy. Past transitions, driven by market forces, corporate entities, and public policies left workers and communities largely behind with little to no support.
- Workers and community members from all regions of the country are suffering from an historic decline and lack of access to opportunities. Many also face the threat of losing opportunities in the near future. The COVID-19 pandemic and persistent structural racism and wealth inequality have exacerbated these realities. People affected by past unjust transitions are reacting harshly to climate action and policy, creating tensions between labor, community and environmental movements that often erupt into open conflicts.
- In the inevitable energy transition some, but not all, fossil-fuel workers will be employed in the renewable energy sector. Proactive policies should create a wide variety of high-quality jobs that can take advantage of these workers’ considerable skills.
Read the Just Transition Listening Project report: Workers and Communities in Transition