Young Voices for a Sustainable Future
“I think there’s a huge opportunity there to form coalitions and use our labor power to take labor action and really push for things that seem to be immediately doable, like divesting from fossil fuels, like ending relationships with massive polluters, changes to travel policies, a whole range of things. […] Absolutely, I think our union should be using our labor power, especially as we go into contract negotiations next year, to get some wins on the climate.” – YWLP Interviewee
Why a Young Worker Listening Project?
Young workers have never known a world without climate catastrophe. We can’t imagine any issue, whether it’s job security, equity, or safety in the workplace, that doesn’t intersect directly with the climate crisis. So much of what we do today in our many industries must change, which means we need a just transition for all in the process. Young people are now largely pro-union, and they want the labor movement to be a mechanism for enacting major economic and environmental change. Our sense of urgency comes from first-hand experience, and it’s telling us that the new labor-climate movement will be built by young workers!
Where We Are Today
In the last year, Labor Network for Sustainability has been organizing the Young Worker Listening Project, collecting almost 400 surveys and conducting 70 in-depth interviews with young workers (ages 18-35) across economic sectors who have been mobilizing their co-workers, pushing their union locals, and showing up in their communities to take action at the intersection of workers’ rights and the climate crisis. Every young worker we’ve spoken to has affirmed our belief that there is a real need for more spaces where folks can share strategies and experiences across industries and grapple with how to start difficult conversations around climate change within their unions.
Where We Are Going
We’re bringing participants from the Listening Project and others together for a Young Worker Convergence in Los Angeles on September 15th-18th, to bring together young workers* who feel that unions and union members have a crucial role to play in responding to the climate crisis.
(*Our goal is to cover all major costs for convergence participants – including travel, lodging, food, and childcare, etc. Sending us the form below to signal your interest will help us begin to assess these needs.)
The convergence will bring together young workers who are interested in or have been acting at the intersection of labor and climate issues, including those who have engaged in the listening project over the last year. Through a focus on place-based and cross-sectoral learning, we intend to:
- Create a forum where young workers can tell their story on how they entered their union, discuss how other young workers can be brought into the labor movement, and plan how young workers can be supported in their labor-climate organizing.
- Build and strengthen relationships among the labor, climate, and environmental justice movements by building a deeper understanding of the environmental and social costs that come from our production processes, and the environmental and social gains to be achieved through a just transition.
- Develop in-house training and education at the Labor Network for Sustainability to support young workers in their efforts to fight for a sustainable and equitable future inside and outside of their unions, workplaces, and communities.
- If you are interested in attending the convergence or learning more, please fill out this quick pre-registration form!
- If you want to share your thoughts and experiences at the intersection of your work, unions, and climate change, please take this 5-minute survey.
- Share this announcement with other young workers in your organization or networks!
Founded by lifelong trade unionist and environmental justice advocate Joe Uehlein and other co-founders, the Labor Network for Sustainability will lift up the unique perspectives of young workers through its Young Worker Listening Project. Also with the leadership of Executive Director Michael Leon Guerrero, an environmental justice organizer of more than 30 years, many national and local unions participate in LNS activities, such as the American Federation of Teachers, Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, Service Employees International Union, Amalgamated Transit Union, and many others.
Young workers have never known a world without climate catastrophe and the debates that come along with it. That’s where we come in. We want to ensure our voices get heard in the labor and climate space.
The Labor Network for Sustainability is excited to announce the launch of the Young Worker Listening Project (YWLP) to focus on the particular experiences and needs of young workers and to engage them more deeply in our organizing.
We have started by sending out this survey with the goal of creating a pipeline to identify & build leadership among young workers in the labor and climate movements. We would love to have your participation in this project as the role you play in this movement is key to amplifying the voices of young workers.
- Teresa Marie Oller, American Postal Workers Union, Portland, Oregon
- Travis Epes, American Postal Workers Union, Portland, Oregon
- Crystal Herrera, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 11
- Celina Barron, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 11
- Ryan Pollock, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 520
- Valerie Lechene, Architecture Lobby
- Amy Calendrella, International Union of Operating Engineers
- Maria Brescia-Weiler, Labor Network for Sustainability
- Leo Blain, Labor Network for Sustainability
Young Worker Project Organizer: Joshua Dedmond, Labor Network for Sustainability