By Veronica Wilson, LNS California Organizer
For the second year in a row, SMART (Sheet Metal Air Rail Transportation) International Union hosted a “Cleanup Kingspan Virtual Summit,” inviting organizations to stand with workers fighting for “good” “green” jobs. Labor Network for Sustainability co-sponsored the summit along with Center on Race Poverty and the Environment, Communities for a Better Environment, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and California Green New Deal Network (CA GNDN). The summit was a chance to hear from workers at Kingspan plants in California who are calling for a “Just Transition” – living wages and healthy workplaces for the people who manufacture the “green” products we need to reduce emissions from buildings.
Kingspan is a $15B company based in Ireland manufacturing building efficiency materials like insulation and skylights. Workers at two Kingspan factories in Modesto and Santa Ana, California described indoor air pollution, a lack of basic protective equipment, persistent cough, headaches, throat and nasal irritation, and shared why they’re calling out Kingspan for greenwashing. Rafael Cabrera said, “Health & Safety at Kingspan is important to me because a company that prides itself on being environmentally sustainable should make sure their employees work in a safe & healthy work environment.”
From a community perspective on the importance of cleaning up a company like Kingspan, Zach Lou from the California Green New Deal Network said “Equitable climate action must also mean making sure any company, like Kingspan, that wants to brand itself as part of the solution to the climate crisis, is also one that offers good jobs and treats its workers with dignity and respect. We’re proud to stand in solidarity and support with these workers to call out Kingspan for its greenwashing and demand that they improve the health and safety conditions for all their workers.”
For more: “Kingspan Workers Expose the Dark Side of a ‘Green’ Industry-” Clean Up Kingspan