Newsletter #1  9/6/2016




The Labor Network for Sustainability is proud to unveil its new newsletter. LNS is all about the need for “making a living on a living planet” — and so is our newsletter. We will be using it to share news of how working people are fighting for a planet that is sustainable — environmentally, economically, and socially. If you like what we are doing and want to connect, please sign up on our website (Sign up here!). You are welcome to repost anything in this newsletter – help us spread the word!




In January 2016 LNS brought together 75 labor movement leaders and activists for the first Labor Convergence on Climate. (See “MORE” below for link). Our mission for two-and-a-half days was to strategize about how to increase the role of the labor movement in the climate protection movement. We have a steering committee and several subcommittees dedicated to specific tasks, like mapping the work unions are doing on climate, developing educational materials, and more. At the conclusion we all agreed on some goals, strategies to help achieve those goals, and a one-year, three-year, and five-year plan.



Many of those who participated in the Labor Convergence on Climate have been working in their own local, state, and national unions — with help from LNS and the Convergence — to propose and fight for resolutions on climate change. Here are some examples they have recently passed:



LNS’s Climate, Jobs, and Justice Project presents a series of reports designed to lay out a worker-friendly pathway to climate protection. Our Clean Energy Future reports show how the U.S. can get to an 80% reduction in greenhouse gasses by 2050 while creating a log of new jobs in construction and manufacturing. The most recent addition is“Beyond a Band-Aid: A Discussion Paper on Protecting Workers and Communities in the Great Energy Transition” by Arjun Makhijani, Ph.D. of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER).
“Beyond a Band-Aid” proposes direct investments in local economies dependent on fossil fuel jobs before devastating economic disruption begins. Its specific proposals for dealing with the downsides of transition to climate-safe energy include:
  • A community and worker protection fund (CWP Fund). The fund would collect money
    in advance to replaces taxes and fees paid by fossil fuel facilities and to invest in good jobs in affected communities.
  •  Advance investment in job creation. The CWP Fund, in cooperation with other private and public sources, would make targeted investments in fossil fuel energy communities designed to create jobs before or at the pace that fossil fuel jobs are declining. Examples would include:
      • Exporting renewable energy
      • HVAC conversion
      • Decommissioning facilities
      • Economic diversification
The paper also lays out a variety of ways to pay for these proposals. They include:
      • Levying a modest carbon fee or tax.
      • Eliminating fossil fuel subsidies and tax breaks.
      • Setting aside funds for decommissioning facilities.
      • Leveraging other investments with the CWP Fund
“Beyond a Band-Aid” provides advocates of worker and community protection in labor, state government, and the public debate concrete proposals for proactively addressing the transition to clean energy, rather than waiting for shutdowns that bring crisis and catastrophe to workers and communities.





The “just transition” frame is being used by an increasing number of organizing networks, grassroots organizations, groups affiliated with organized labor, and environmental organizations. But the ways in which it is being used are highly varied. This summer LNS, in cooperation with the Grassroots Policy Project, issued a report titled Just Transition: Just What Is It?: An Analysis of Language, Strategies, and Projects
This report aims to assess the notion of just transition, how it is being used, what kinds of ideas and approaches are surfacing for short and long-term strategies, and what kinds of relationships groups are developing in pursuit of a just transition. Its purpose is to open a broad and respectful discussion about the varied ways the “just transition” frame is being used, and whether they can contribute to a shared vision of how to make the transition we face a just transition.
“Just Transition: Just What Is It?” is based on 17 interviews conducted between October, 2015 and March, 2016 by Christina Roessler, accompanied at times by Joe Uehlein and Richard Healey. This report represents a preliminary effort based on a limited number of interviews and a small amount of additional research – but we think anyone interested in the meanings of just transition will find it provocative and revealing.



As the Huntley coal-fired power plant in Tonawanda, NY, a working class suburb of Buffalo, NY, began cutting back on its production, the company began cutting back on its payments to the town; as a result, three schools were closed and 135 school employees lost their jobs. The workforce at the plant was slashed from 125 to 75. In response to the likely closing of the plant, the Kenmore-Tonawanda Teachers Association, the IBEW, the Western New York Area Labor Federation, and the Clean Air Coalition formed the Huntley Alliance. They won funding from the new state Fossil Fuel Plant Closure Fund to offset lost tax revenue. And they are continuing to campaign for jobs and/or retraining for those employed at the plant and reuse of the plant for activities that will enhance the economic and cultural life of the community. Richard Lipsitz, President of the Western New York Labor Federation, and Rebecca Newberry, Executive Director of the Clean Air Coalition of Western New York, tell the inside story of this successful effort in “Huntley, a Case Study: Building Strategic Alliances for Real Change.”

Newsletter #1 9/6/2016

by | Oct 29, 2016