• Thu. Oct 29th, 2020

Friday Night Owls: How unions can bridge the gap between climate and labor movements

ByAdiantku

Oct 10, 2020

Night Owls, a themed open thread, appears at Daily Kos seven days a week

Mindy Isser at In These Times writes—The unionization of environmental organizations is changing the climate justice movement for the better:

[…] Char­lie Jiang, a cli­mate cam­paign­er at Green­peace USA, an envi­ron­men­tal non­prof­it, told In These Times that staff there ​“have been orga­niz­ing for quite some time, and the pan­dem­ic strength­ened our resolve. We’re fight­ing for more clear and con­sis­tent poli­cies and more orga­ni­za­tion­al trans­paren­cy.” The Green­peace USA Work­ers Union, affil­i­at­ed with Pro­gres­sive Work­ers Union (PWU), was vol­un­tar­i­ly rec­og­nized in August. Jiang said that union mem­bers ​“are look­ing ahead to meet­ing man­age­ment with good faith at the bar­gain­ing table… We formed a union to fight for fair and bet­ter work­ing con­di­tions, and for a cul­ture root­ed in justice.”

Unions do far more than allow work­ers to col­lec­tive­ly bar­gain. They give peo­ple the abil­i­ty to prac­tice democ­ra­cy in the work­place, they have the pow­er to change our polit­i­cal sys­tem, and they chal­lenge cor­po­rate prof­it and pow­er — mak­ing them poten­tial allies for envi­ron­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions that do the same. Groups like Green­peace, the Sier­ra Club and 350​.org often fight big cor­po­ra­tions over their dan­ger­ous dis­pos­al of chem­i­cal waste, fos­sil fuel emis­sions, fac­to­ry farm­ing and more. Work­ers for these cor­po­ra­tions are the ones who han­dle tox­ic waste, breathe dirty air and process chick­en at poul­try plants.

Envi­ron­men­tal groups and work­er orga­ni­za­tions are aligned on many issues, and some do work close­ly togeth­er. Accord­ing to Rebec­ca Wolf, a senior orga­niz­er on the fac­to­ry farm team at Food and Water Watch and a mem­ber of NPEU, ​“Our true focus is cor­po­rate con­trol. Union­iz­ing work­ers inher­ent­ly beats back against cor­po­rate con­trol and con­trol of the food sys­tem. I see envi­ron­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions all the time in cor­po­rate part­ner­ships, and we have a hard line against that.”

While unions are fund­ed only by mem­bers’ dues mon­ey, many envi­ron­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions take mon­ey from cor­po­rate donors — some of which face off against unions in their own work­places. This dynam­ic can cre­ate ten­sion between staff and lead­er­ship at envi­ron­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions, which may have dif­fer­ent priorities. […]

And while unions are able to win impres­sive gains around wages, ben­e­fits and a voice at work, their true pow­er lies in their abil­i­ty to shut down the econ­o­my if nec­es­sary. On the whole, work­ers at non­prof­its and oth­er pro­gres­sive orga­ni­za­tions are not nec­es­sar­i­ly in a strate­gic posi­tion to exert lever­age to secure the biggest wins for the cli­mate — their going on strike would not have a sig­nif­i­cant impact on the broad­er econ­o­my. Work­ers in logis­tics, health­care and edu­ca­tion have far more pow­er to throw a wrench in how our econ­o­my and soci­ety func­tions. And build­ing trades work­ers, who are like­ly to have more work if leg­is­la­tion like the Green New Deal is passed, could be very influ­en­tial in cli­mate pol­i­cy. Their unions are large and pow­er­ful, and their mem­bers are con­struc­tion work­ers and elec­tri­cians, whose work will be direct­ly impact­ed by both cli­mate change and cli­mate leg­is­la­tion. While build­ing trades work­ers tend to be more con­ser­v­a­tive, the poten­tial for more work and larg­er mem­ber­ship rolls could make them the decid­ing fac­tor in the pas­sage of a Green New Deal. […]

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QUOTATION

“Your forefathers crossed the great waters, and landed on this island. Their number were small. They found friends and not enemies. They told us they had fled from their own country for fear of wicked men and come here to enjoy their religion. They asked for a small seat. We took pity on them, granted their request, and they sat down amongst us. We gave them corn and meat.They gave us poison in return. The white people hd now found our country. Tidings were carried back, and more came amongst us. Yet we did not fear them. We took them to be friends. They called us brothers. We believed them, and gave them a larger seat. At length their numbers have greatly increased. They wanted more land. They wanted our country.”
             
~~Red Jacket (Seneca) 1805

TWEET OF THE DAY

Wishing Jonathan the tortoise a very happy 188th birthday. He is the oldest known living terrestrial animal in the world🥳 pic.twitter.com/Ipo6mDATAH

— Anna Berserk🎶🌊🦮🦘 (@BerserkAnna) October 9, 2020

BLAST FROM THE PAST

At Daily Kos on this date in 2006—Giving ’til it hurts (them):

Sen. Hillary Clinton transferred $2.1 million from her Senate re-election account to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on 10/5. She also gave $250K to the DCCC and $150K to the New York State Democratic Party. (Hotline sources) [I]s this in addition to the $1 million she was supposed to give earlier? It’s unclear, but either way, it shows that Clinton realizes the importance of this November’s elections. She had over $22 million CoH at the end of Q3, so she can afford it.

I’m struck at the sacrifices so many of us are making to help out the party and its various candidates. People are seriously dipping into their living expenses to try and make a difference this fall. So I get pissed seeing Dems without serious challengers, with fat campaign accounts, who aren’t contributing to the cause. If they expect the party rank and file to help fund its efforts, they need to lead by example.

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