Healing the Rift Between Labor Unions and Environmentalists
Over the last few decades, one of the Right’s favorite divide-and-conquer tactics has been to drive a wedge between labor groups and environmentalists.
This phony Either/Or dilemma — you can have a job OR you can protect the environment — is just that: phonier than a $3 bill. Rightwing think tankers and smoke-and-mirrors artists have been promoting this myth since the 1970s.
But labor unions and the Green movement were working together at the recent U.N. climate conference in Poznan, Poland. Both groups were pushing for renewable energy as the answer to global warming and the economic meltdown.
About 25 American union representatives were at the conference, representing workers from the steel, electrical, transit and service industries, among others.
David Foster is the executive director of the Blue Green Alliance, a coalition that includes the United Steelworkers Union and the Sierra Club. He said: “There is a very wide cross-section of American unions that reflects the growing engagement of American unions' support of climate change policies. There's a power in the joint vision that we just don't have functioning on our own.”
Workers’ rights and environmental protection have both taken some devastating hits over the past eight years (and the Hit Man hasn’t even left office yet).
David Hawkins, of the Natural Resources Defense Council, talked about the rightwing effort to maintain that fake “jobs OR the environment” dilemma: “They keep on shouting that scare campaign at every opportunity they get. An alliance is a powerful way of sending the message that you can have both.”
The Sierra Club is fighting for stronger whistleblower protections for workers who speak out against safety or environmental violations. And the Employee Free Choice Act is strongly endorsed by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club.
(Don’t listen to the rightwing droolbags. Here are the facts about the Employee Free Choice Act.)
Robert Baugh, chairman of the AFL-CIO energy task force, said there are still “some differences” with environmental groups, but “we also have a lot of common interests.”
He also said: “The climate crisis and a new energy policy is an opportunity for our country to actually have a strategy about the environment, about manufacturing. We think that by addressing the environmental crisis, we actually can have the opportunity to create good, green jobs.”
As just one example: a windmill has about 800 parts. Somebody has to manufacture, install and maintain them.
cross-posted at Bring It On!