Labor & Sustainability


Labor and Climate Change: A Briefing Paper for Activists

This briefing paper provides a strategy for addressing organized labor’s stake in climate change. Its goal is to provide activists inside and outside the labor movement with the information they need to help shape effective, worker friendly climate protection policies and garner support for them from organized labor. The findings are based primarily on a detailed survey of the climate change record, self-interest, and decision making process of 17 labor organizations.  These unions and federations were selected to reflect the range of industries, occupations, and organizational cultures of the US trade union movement. The results of these surveys were compiled into profiles which include basic information, analysis, contact data, and other relevant information. Continue Reading…

Earth Day, Labor and Me

The approach of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22 provides us an opportunity to reflect on the “long, strange trip” shared by the environmental movement and the labor movement over four decades here on Spaceship Earth.

A billion people participate in Earth Day events, making it the largest secular civic event in the world.  But when it was founded in 1970, according to Earth Day’s first national coordinator Denis Hayes, “Without the UAW, the first Earth Day would have likely flopped!” Continue Reading…

Why Green Jobs Should be Union Jobs

Thousands of “green jobs” have been created by President Obama’s stimulus package; millions more will be created by proposed climate legislation; tens of millions will be required to create the low-carbon economy that scientists say is necessary for the survival of the earth as we know it.  Further, nearly all existing jobs will have to be made “greener” as existing workplaces convert to more climate-friendly production.  Both new and existing jobs that contribute to reducing the emission of carbon and other greenhouse gasses (GHGs) have come to be known as “green jobs.”

Environmentalists and the public should ensure that the new green jobs provide the right to have a union, and then encourage the workers to organize and employers to recognize and cooperate with them. Continue Reading…

Unions Call for Science-Based Reductions in Greenhouse Gases

Over the past couple of years, the American labor movement has become an enthusiastic supporter of expanding “green jobs” that fight global warming. But policies to reduce carbon emissions to levels scientists say are safe have been a harder pill to swallow. Now, in a significant breakthrough, three significant unions have come out for the science-based emissions targets called for by the IPCC.

As 250 international union delegates arrived in Copenhagen for the global climate summit, a statement by the Transport Workers Union (TWU) and a joint statement by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) called for a 25 to 40 percent reduction on 1990 levels for developed countries by 2020. Continue Reading…

10 Things Labor is Doing Around the World to Fight Climate Change

On 10/10/10 thousands of organizations around the world will be holding a GLOBAL WORK PARTY for the “BIGGEST DAY OF PRACTICAL ACTION TO CUT CARBON THAT THE WORLD HAS EVER SEEN.”

The climate protection movement is especially encouraging unions and their members to participate in this “Day to Celebrate Climate Solutions.”

Many unions are already involved in “practical action to cut carbon.” Here are some things workers and unions are doing in the US and around the world to help protect the earth’s climate:

“¢    SEIU local BJ32 in New York established a program called A Thousand Green Supers to train building managers to operate their buildings to protect the environment and minimizes carbon emissions.

“¢    The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Workers passed a resolution calling for governments to meet scientifically-established targets for greenhouse gas emissions and established a green website to let government workers around the country know how they can play a state-of-the-art role in protecting the climate. Continue Reading…

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