As Project Manager of the LNS Young Worker Listening Project and an organizer of the LNS Young Workers Convergence on Climate, Maria Breschia-Weiler has worked with, surveyed, and interviewed hundreds of young workers. In a talk March 3, 2023 to the DC Youth Climate Strike, organized by Fridays for the Future, Maria provided some reflections on what she has learned from the process. Here are some excerpts:
I work with young workers ages 18-35 who have been mobilizing their co-workers, pushing their employers, and showing up in their communities to take action at the intersection of workers’ rights and the climate crisis. It is impossible to ignore the incredible energy and sharp analysis young people are bringing to every part of the movement: in the urgency and relentlessness of youth climate organizing, in mass mobilizations around racial justice and police violence, in demanding protections for immigrants, in organizing Amazon warehouses and Starbucks stores, in finding ways to care for and protect each other when the government has not.
Climate change deeply shapes how young people are thinking about and planning for their futures. We always ask young workers how they ideally envision their life and work 20 years from now. This question is almost always met by a blank stare, or some kind of sigh or groan and a long pause. But after that long pause, they paint pictures of a beautiful future, where we all have more time off to care for our loved ones and grow sustainable local food, where union construction workers have made public buildings like schools and post offices into community resilience hubs run on green energy, where they have access to safe, clean and reliable public transportation but there’s so much affordable housing in their community that they can walk to work.
There are young climate activists everywhere – in science labs and on picket lines, in schools and on both sides of pipeline protests, driving buses and trucks, sorting and delivering mail, waiting tables and checking you out at the grocery store.
These folks have realized that you always have the power to organize.