Mission Statement of the Labor Network for Sustainability
To be a relentless force for urgent, science-based climate action by building a powerful labor-climate movement to secure an ecologically sustainable and economically just future where everyone can make a living on a living planet.
We formed the Labor Network for Sustainability as a vehicle through which we could press for bold climate action in ways that address labor concerns without sacrificing what science is telling us is necessary, and what’s needed to address income inequality and worker power. LNS was founded on the belief that the crises of income inequality and climate change can and must be addressed at the same time, and in so doing we will advance the goals of both movements and offer the best hope for averting climate catastrophe.
We started by conducting the first ever power structure analysis of the American labor movement with a special focus on climate and sustainability; and on how labor changes on big social issues like civil rights, immigration, trade and globalization, war, and single payer health care ~ all issues where labor morphed from a conservative posture to a more progressive posture.
We published articles and studies that raise questions that challenge existing assumptions. And we threw down big on disruptive strategies like blocking the Keystone Pipeline with non-violent civil disobedience.
Major themes and strategies emerged:
- Climate change is the real job killer; not the answers.
- Just Transition is a bedrock principle, not an add-on.
- Keep the science front and center in our work.
- Be a network, not a coalition.
- And to focus on bottom up organizing coupled with top-down strategies.
- We build bridges to bring together these two great movements, labor and the environment, that made great gains when they worked together, but each time progress was made working together, something would happen that would drive them apart. We address these pitfalls and fault-lines head-on.
We conduct workshops for labor organizations on climate change, and for environmental organizations on the history, structure, function and culture of the labor movement; so that deeper relationships can be cultivated. We held to our belief that if we are to win on climate, labor must be a central player.
The mission of LNS is to engage workers and communities in building a transition to a society that is ecologically sustainable and economically just.
We are now at a critical juncture facing manifold crises and the demand on our work and on our team is greater than it ever has been. We are deeply grateful for your support.
Statement of Principles of the Labor Network for Sustainability
- We seek a sustainable future for the earth and its people. We believe that all people have a right to make a living on a living planet.
- Climate change represents a mortal threat to working people, the labor movement, and society at large. Climate change is happening now due to human-induced emissions of heat-trapping gases, mainly from burning coal, oil, and gas. Without bold action now, the warming planet threatens to put prosperity out of reach of millions and roll back decades of development. And the climate crisis disproportionally hurts those who are already most hurt by our economic and political systems: women and people of color. Climate protection is not an optional issue for labor. As the pace of climate change worsens, the labor movement’s fundamental principle of solidarity requires us to take the lead on climate.
- We have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions fast. We have to recognize and achieve the targets for greenhouse gas emission reduction that climate science requires. The time for slow, careful, cautious approaches is long past. The window for taking action grows smaller with each passing year. The current U.S. government plans for reducing greenhouse gas emissions fall seriously short of what most climate scientists say is necessary.
- Minimizing climate catastrophe requires a planned elimination of coal, oil, and natural gas emissions, as well as emissions from agriculture, waste, and other sources. It requires a rapid movement toward 100% renewable energy. That requires a planned, rapid construction of renewable energy infrastructure on a massive scale, comparable to the economic mobilization that the U.S. undertook during World War II. The market will not provide such a transformation; it will require public planning and investment designed to protect the climate for the public good. Climate protection demands a democraticallycontrolled, sustainable, demilitarized, equitable, and just economy that uses our resources not for greed or military domination but to meet the needs of people and planet.
- As the threat of climate change mounts, the rich continue to get richer, the poor get poorer, and working people get slammed. Fortunately, we can address both the climate crisis and the inequality crisis with the same set of policies. As a labor movement we need to re-center our priorities around these challenges.
- Climate protection must serve as a means to challenge environmental, racial, and gender injustice. The jobs created by climate protection must be open and accessible to those who have been excluded from and discriminated against in the labor force. Climate protecting energy policies must reduce rather than add to pollution in frontline environmental justice communities, and these policies must respect the sovereignty of indigenous communities. The labor movement must support the struggles of those communities.
- Labor’s climate policy should insist on the basic principle of fairness that the burden of policies that are necessary for society—like protecting the climate—shouldn’t be borne by a small minority who happen to be victimized by their side effects. A labor plan for climate protection should insist from the outset that any transition away from fossil fuels includes protection for the wellbeing of workers and communities whose jobs may be threatened.
- Full employment and economic security for all must be a central part of a labor program for climate protection because the threat of unemployment forces workers and unions to accept any jobs, even those that are destroying their own futures. Climate protecting jobs must provide a decent income, benefits, and the basic right of workers to speak, to organize, and to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing.
- We recognize that the changes that are necessary to provide a secure future for people and planet challenge the structures and values of our society. The Labor Convergence on Climate will encourage climate protection advocates to organize locally and nationally in their own unions; encourage climate solidarity with workers around the world; build cooperation among climate protection advocates and caucuses in different unions; educate labor’s leadership and rank and file on the realities of climate change; transform the discourse and ultimately the policy of the labor movement; and bring local labor unions and activists into engagement with climate and climate justice organizations and activists in their own communities. As workers and trade unionists we will either initiate change or be the victims of it. We hereby resolve to use our power to reshape the economic, political, and social system in the interests of all the world’s people who are threatened by climate change
Voices for a Sustainable Future
LNS is a project of Voices for a Sustainable Future. VSF brings together science, art, and economics in an effort to achieve a sustainable future for planet and people.
Brochure: Download our brochure at this link