Labor Network for Sustainability President and Founder Joe Uehlein is a lifelong trade unionist and environmental justice advocate. His remarks below are from the September 18, 2020 Labor Day Fundraiser.

by Joe Uehlein

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.

Remarks by Joe Uehlein at the September 18, 2020 Labor Day Fundraiser for the Labor Network for Sustainability. Watch the video »