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Week 5 - Can unions lead the way on climate protection?

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Ashley Conway

on 18 November 2014

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Transcript of Week 5 - Can unions lead the way on climate protection?

Week 5
Can unions lead the way on climate protection?

Labor Network for Sustainability
In September the largest climate change march in history was supported by many labor unions and organizations representing workers from a spectrum of sectors and industries. Unions have a tradition of supporting progressive change to help working families and communities – often against great odds. Can unions lead the way to find solutions and take action that can change the current climate change trajectory? What will the cost be if unions fail to have a place at the climate change table?

Explore the global climate change efforts of unions and labor organizations
Present your union’s position on climate change including policy and initiatives
Discuss the role of unions in climate change adverse event preparation, response, and recovery

People's Climate March. (2014)
Report Back
. (1:26)
Labor Network for Sustainability labor profiles at: http://profiles.labor4sustainability.org/

This site lists profiles of national unions, state AFL-CIOs, and state and regional CLCs.

The profiles include:
structure and officers
sustainability profile
green employment prospects
policy statements

Is your union or organization profiled? Do you think the information accurate?

If you were writing your union's or organization's profile what would you include?
Ideally, what would the profile say?

The Labor-Climate Landscape: A Guided Tour for Worker- and Climate-Protection Advocates

"We offer this analysis of the labor landscape as a guided tour of the terrain of the struggle to make labor a leader in the fight for climate safety".
- Labor Network for Sustainability
The analysis includes:
Labor's stake in climate protection
Stumbling blocks to labor support for climate protection
How Organized Labor is Organized
The Decision-Making Process
A climate change continuum
What unions can do about climate change
Building trades
Manufacturing unions
Blue-Green Alliance
Talking to labor about climate change
Links to resources

What is your critique of this resource? What section was useful?
What section was not?
“Doing something about it is not all about sacrifice. Building a clean energy economy and making our communities and infrastructure more resilient give us the opportunity to rebuild our economy. As rising temperatures have attacked our environment, our economy has lost good jobs and replaced them with poverty jobs. The two problems are connected – each stemming from policies that put profit ahead of people – and the solution is the same.”

- George Miranda,
International Vice President,
Teamsters Union
Trade Union Advisory Committee. (2008) Alana Dave, ITF Climate Justice Co-Coordinator: Green Jobs and Climate Change. (1:23)
International Transport Workers' Federation
Are you in a transport union that is an ITF affiliate? If so, help ITF collect info by taking the climate change ITF survey now: http://fluidsurveys.com/s/itfccwg/
The next 10 slides are from a OLA* course that ITF teaches. If you would like a copy of the slides, you can find the PowerPoint on the Week 5 page in Ecollege.
Brecher, J., Blackwell, R. & Uehlein, J. (2013)
If Not Now, When? A Labor Movement Plan to Address Climate Change.
New Labor Forum, 1-7.

The position of the article's authors is that "labor needs to propose a climate protection strategy of its own—one that realistically protects the livelihood and well-being of working people and helps reverse America’strend toward greater inequality while reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at the speedscientists say is necessary to reduce climate catastrophe." They go on to propose a strategy to accomplish this and remind readers that this is not a new strategy for labor and compare it to the labor's response to the WWII Nazi threat.

If you are interested in reading
If Not Now, When
, you can download it from the link on the Week 5 page in Ecollege.
* OLA is the Online Learning Academy of the International Federation of Workers' Education Academies (IFWEA): http://www.ifwea.org/ifwea-online-labour-academy-ola/
- Saul Alinsky
If you would like to read the conclusion of Klein's book
This Changes Everything
, you can download it on the Week 5 page in Ecollege. The real heart the book is between the introduction that you read last week and the conclusion, but I included it here because Klein's reasons to build a movement - in which labor is paramount - is so compelling.

As frightening as the specter of our planet in an irreversible climate change trajectory is, Klein's book gave me hope in a future that is environmentally sustainable and more just.
Is there anything included in your collective bargaining agreements that relates to health and safety and the environment?
What is your union's position on climate change - are there policies, position papers or initiatives?
(at the national, state or local level)

Please choose at least one of the questions to address in the Week 5 forum discussion. You can write up your information or create a PowerPoint, video, audio clip or any other any other media*.
Do employers in your industry have preparedness, response and recovery plans in place for climate change related disasters? Does your union?
How will members get the tools and skills they will need to do their jobs in a changing climate?
*If you need help loading your presentation into the Ecollege forum, email me and I'll try to help or call the Tech Help number.
Full transcript