BlueGreen Alliance

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Posts About Communications Workers of America

The following blog was originally posted on the Communications Workers of America website.

At the Good Jobs, Green Jobs Conference, union and green activists focused on how to beat "fast track" authority and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an IUE-CWA program to help manufacturing plants save energy and become more efficient, and how sustainable planning in the aviation industry can help improve communities.

AFA-CWA International President Veda Shook and Lourdes Maurice, Executive Director for the Federal Aviation Administration's Energy and Environment Office, moderated a discussion that addressed the airline industry and global greenhouse gases, climate change and ways to improve the aviation industry with a focus on smart planning.

IUE-CWA President Jim Clark and members highlighted the sector's partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund that works with management and workers to identify and implement energy saving opportunities at manufacturing facilities.

Also spotlighted was IUE-CWA's Lean/High Performance Manufacturing program, which looks at organizing production to lower costs, eliminate waste, improve quality and keep good jobs.

CWA Senior Director George Kohl, with the Sierra Club and the National Resources Defense Council, outlined the critical fight to stop fast track authority for the Trans Pacific Partnership. About 30 CWA and IUE-CWA activists participated.

Posted In: Trade/Make it in America, Communications Workers of America

Let’s not fold on environmental protections and protecting working families as we negotiate a new trade deal. 

What good are better environmental protections and improved living standards for us all if, when pressed, they’re the first thing up for negotiation? That’s where we’re headed with regard to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. The idea that we’d negotiate such a trade agreement behind closed doors and under restrictive deadlines by fast-tracking negotiations doesn’t set the stage for success either. Americans deserve to hear everything they’d be getting, and giving up, by fast-tracking the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. 

This week, the Senate Finance Committee heard from the Communications Workers of America’s President Larry Cohen during a hearing on how Congress should negotiate this and other trade agreements. The concerns he expresses in his testimony are warranted. Besides the impact the TPP would have on environmental standards and basic quality of life for millions of Americans, a new trade deal shouldn’t add to the deficit, shouldn’t diminish consumer protections, should comply with all International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions and more.

Cohen testified “We struggle and fight to hold on to the hard-won gains of years past even as the companies score record profits and CEOs’ pay is at astronomical highs. We need to recognize the role that trade agreements have played in creating this situation. 

See his full testimony below: 

We can’t afford to stand for these values within our own borders and fall back on our demands when pressured to do so. 

Speaking to the environmental implications, Cohen said, “It also does nothing to protect our environmental and climate policies from attack by foreign corporations or to put less stress on our scarce natural resources. More must be done to ensure that trade agreements don’t become a global race to the bottom on the environment.” 

The bad deal Americans would be getting by fast-tracking TPP authority doesn’t end there. Cohen voiced similar concerns about a race to the bottom with regard to fair labor standards, “It’s troubling to us that while previous discussions around Fast Track and negotiating principles have mentioned International Labor Organization (ILO) standards as a benchmark, the U.S. has endorsed few of those very standards itself.” 

There’s no denying that trade is an essential force in our economy. However, we must do more to be sure it’s not setting us back in the long term. Lawmakers would do well to show a little more determination in protecting transparency, consumer and environmental protections, fair labor standards and much more, so that our democracy doesn’t fall by the wayside today or any time soon.  










Posted In: Trade/Make it in America, Communications Workers of America

The following blog is from Tom Conway, a Regional Program Manager for the BlueGreen Alliance.

Last week I had the pleasure of taking part in the United Steelworkers (USW) and Communications Workers of America’s (CWA) Health, Safety & Environment Conference in Pittsburgh. This is always an informative and inspiring event. This year 1,400 union members, and some management staff, from across the country and a variety of industries came together in the Steel City to learn, teach, and recommit to making our workplaces and communities safe from injuries, death, and industrial disaster.

The USW and the CWA are partners in the Tony Mazzocchi Center and members of the BlueGreen Alliance. Tony Mazzocchi was a visionary who united labor unions with environmental organizations to achieve key victories in the 1960’s and 70’s, including things like the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), the Clean Air Act and the first Earth Day. The BlueGreen Alliance is the legacy of that work, and my colleagues and I were honored to have the opportunity at this conference to conduct workshops on climate change, environmental regulation, jobs, and infrastructure. We were thrilled to have over 60 union members join these sessions to discuss with us the impacts that they are already seeing in their communities from a changing climate and what we need to do about it. In case you haven’t heard, we call it Repair America.

From the conversations we had in these workshops, it is clear that we need to act now. There were several workers from plants that had begun to see frequent shutdowns from flooding recently. We listened as three CWA members from New Jersey explained to us the devastation that they are still dealing with daily from Hurricane Sandy. We heard about the concern in one workplace that consistent annual drought conditions now have the company considering relocation. There seemed to be agreement amongst everyone in the room that we need to do something, but some people are also worried that taking action on climate change and infrastructure may lead to increased bills and taxes for workers and more jobs lost overseas, if it is not done right. So we discussed what “doing it right” means; things like trade considerations, research and development, a fair transition for workers, and energy efficiency improvements in our factories.   

The participants in these workshops were great folks, all engaged on these issues, looking to stay informed and get involved. They appreciate that these issues are complicated and require thoughtful solutions, and that running from or denying there is a problem is not it. I’m grateful for people like them.

I got back from Pittsburgh to my home in Northwest Indiana and there was another group of environmental-minded union members coming together on a Saturday morning to take part in National Public Lands Day. I joined a group of Steelworkers, representing 4 local unions from the region, in removing invasive species from the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.  We spent hours working side by side with Cub Scouts and Park Rangers, cutting and pulling Honeysuckle vine that was choking the life out of the forest. A few of the Steelworkers had brought their kids, to teach them about the amazing nature in their backyard and also the idea of this shared beauty, these public areas for everyone to enjoy and take care of,… democracy at its very best.

That was a great week. I’m fortunate to be able to say I really enjoy my job. I learn a lot from interacting with a diverse group of people in the labor and environmental communities. It is weeks like last week which give me hope during weeks like this week, when, instead of doing something about climate change and jobs and trade and infrastructure and so on, the federal government is shutdown.

I saw once again last week that working Americans are ready to have the hard conversations, make the difficult decisions and do the work necessary to make our people and planet safe and healthy. The members of Congress who are blocking action on, well, EVERYTHING should follow their example. 

Posted In: Indiana, Illinois, Work, Environment and Public Health, Communications Workers of America, United Steelworkers

If you have recently found yourself more frustrated and more disillusioned with Congress’s inability to get things done lately, you’re not alone. Today nearly 100 organizations, including the BlueGreen Alliance, delivered a message to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell that enough is enough.

In January, Senate leaders had the chance to reform the Senate rules and end the abuse of the filibuster. Instead, they agreed on a weak compromise.

As a result, it is business as usual. A determined, radical, obstructionist minority is abusing the rules, requiring a 60 vote supermajority for nearly every piece of legislation and nearly every nomination.

It can’t continue this way.

Sign the petition to tell Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell that it is time to end the obstruction.

Our federal court system is in crisis because agencies that safeguard workers’ rights, ensure the safety of our air and water and protect worker’s safety cannot function effectively because key leaders can’t be confirmed. The inability of the Senate to confirm judicial and executive branch nominees hurts our democracy every day.

The full text of the letter signed by the BlueGreen Alliance and over 45 organizations appears below.


 To Majority Leader Reid and Minority Leader McConnell: 

Our nation faces critical problems that require that all aspects of the federal government function at the highest possible level. The cabinet departments and regulatory agencies must have a full complement of leadership. Likewise, the federal courts must be fully staffed in order to fulfill their constitutional obligation to provide justice to the American people. In order to ensure that these vital positions are promptly filled, the United States Senate must have in place a process that allows it to expeditiously and fairly fulfill its role of providing advice and consent to the President’s nominees, as the Constitution mandates, particularly when a majority of the Senate is willing to act. 

Regrettably, the Senate’s constitutional role in confirming executive and judicial nominations has broken down. We are now faced with the unprecedented procedural hurdle of requiring 60 votes for virtually every nominee submitted by the President. The result has been the debilitation of vital federal courts and many important regulatory bodies. The use of the silent filibuster by the minority, based on their requirement of 60 votes to consider an issue, has evolved into a weapon of partisan obstruction and delay. The process no longer provides unfettered debate that allows the minority to be sure that its voice is heard. In effect, it has granted a minority of 40 senators a veto power over nominees to the judicial branch and independent agencies – nominees that are imperative to the functioning of government and access to justice. 

The price for this unparalleled dysfunction is not paid just by those seeking justice in the courts or important administrative decisions, but by the institution of the Senate itself, which is now held in the lowest level of esteem in its history and has lost the respect and trust of the American people. 

This crisis of confidence grows as the roster of institutional failure expands: 

There now is no ability to enforce labor law in the United States of America. The National Labor Relations Board remains severely impaired by the failure of the senate to confirm a full five member board and general counsel. Three Democratic and two Republican nominees, along with the general counsel, must receive confirmation votes to ensure this agency can meet its statutory obligations to safeguard workplace protections for 80 million Americans and monitor the collective bargaining process. 

The judicial crisis in our courts is growing worse. Over 10 percent of all federal judgeships are vacant, creating a crisis in the courts and denying justice to thousands of Americans whose cases are interminably delayed, if they are ever heard at all. There are over 30 more vacancies now than when President Obama took office, dozens of which are classified as “judicial emergencies.” Filibusters have been applied to large numbers of district court nominees for the first time in history, and circuit court nominees face record-breaking delays and are routinely filibustered, including nominees for the D.C. Circuit, which has four openings, including the seat vacated by now-Chief Justice John Roberts in 2005.

Opponents of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are trying to block the CFPB's ability to move forward with its mandate. The Bureau was established by Congress only two years ago because the public demanded reform and transparency of the activity within our financial system that brought about a fiscal collapse in this country. Yet the Senate refuses to allow an up-or-down vote on a director in a transparent attempt to subvert the statute by blocking the agency’s leader from taking office. 

The Senate minority has threatened to enact their anti-environment agenda by denying a confirmation vote on leadership positions critical to the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Interior. If these positions go unfilled these federal agencies cannot carry out their charge of protecting the health and safety of Americans by limiting dangerous pollution in our air and water and will be stymied in supporting our wild places which are important to our national legacy and our economy. 

Similarly, the Senate minority refused to allow a confirmation vote on the leadership of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services which oversees Medicare and Medicaid programs covering 100 million people and together accounting for 23% of the Federal budget. The threat of the silent filibuster denied leadership to the programs enacted by the majority in Congress. 

The Federal Election Commission (FEC), an independent body tasked with enforcing our nation’s campaign finance laws remains one of Washington’s most dysfunctional agencies at a time when oversight is sorely needed. It can only act with the agreement of at least 4 of its 6 commissioners. However, 5 of the 6 seats are currently vacant or held by lame-ducks still sitting on expired terms (as they are entitled to do until a replacement is confirmed). The sixth and final seat expires in April. Once the President acts and nominates new commissioners, it is the Senate’s responsibility to grant them an up or down vote. 

The abuse of the filibuster to undermine policies that the minority cannot defeat through normal legislative channels represents a subversion of core democratic principles and Senate traditions, and should not continue. 

The Founders gave to the Senate the responsibility to provide “advice and consent” to the president’s nominees by majority vote. No one doubts that the Senate should take this vital task seriously and carefully consider nominations to important positions within our government. But they never envisioned that the Senate would abuse its advice and consent role by employing rules and procedures that would deliberately undermine the full and efficient functioning of the American government or deny a vote to those who have been appointed to positions that Congress itself established. The willful misuse of the Senate’s rules must end. 

We call on you, and all the members of the Senate, to restore fairness and honor to the nomination and confirmation process for executive and judicial nominations, and use the rules of the Senate in a constructive way that fulfills both your constitutional responsibilities and the needs of the American people in these challenging times. Or to reform those rules if a determined minority remains adamant in maintaining a veto over everything that conflicts with their radical philosophy. 


Alliance for a Just Society
Alliance for Justice
Alliance for Retired Americans
American Association for Justice -Formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America
American Association of University Professors
Americans for Financial Reform
The American Federation of Government Employees
American Federation of Teachers
American Postal Workers Union
American Sustainable Business Council
Blue Green Alliance
Campaign for America’s Future
Center for Biological Diversity
Center for Effective Government
Center for Science in Public Interest
The Center for Media and Democracy’s PR Watch
The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles
Clean Water Action
Common Cause
CREDO Action
Daily Kos
Defending Dissent Foundation
Democracy 21
DREAM Action Coalition
Equal Justice Society
Friends of the Earth
Gamaliel Transportation Equity Network
Healthcare for America Now
Jobs with Justice/American Rights at Work
Leadership Center for the Common Good
National Association of Letter Carriers
National Coalition on Black Civic Participation
National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy
National Consumers League
National Education Association

Posted In: Communications Workers of America

The following blog is cross-posted from the Good Jobs, Green Jobs Conference website.

Addressing a standing room only crowd of union members, environmentalists and business leaders who are all prepared for an exciting few days ahead, David Foster, Executive Director of the BlueGreen Alliance opened up the first Good Jobs, Green Jobs 2013 plenary session. Leo Gerard from United Steelworkers, Larry Cohen from Communications Workers of America, Jon Barton from Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and Michael Brune from Sierra Club all spoke about why they individually are engaged in the movement to build a stronger, cleaner economy and also why their respective organizations are also  leading the way.

Leo Gerard with United Steelworkers spoke about growing up in one of the most polluted towns in North America. Now at the head of the United Steelworkers organization, everyday he’s working to convince others about the importance of good jobs that protect the environment. He said, we won’t always agree on every item. He urged the need to go after the low-hanging fruit that’s going to create jobs. One example he gave was that more than 50 percent of schools in America are more than 60 years old and there’s millions of jobs in retrofitting schools and public buildings.

Speaking also about the impact pollution had on him when he was younger, Sierra Club’s Michael Brune  said that our biggest challenge is we think we can all take on this pursuit alone. He warned that we don’t just want to slow the rate of warming or the decline of the environment and if we’re fighting to win on climate change, we have to do it together.

Communications Workers of America’s Larry Cohen spoke about how we have to take a broad view of this challenge. He said, we have to work together on a democracy movement. As important as climate change and workers’ rights are we need to raise up these democracy issues. He added, let’s put together climate change, workers’ rights and democracy and let’s stand together and fight back.

Jon Barton from SEIU provided some perspective on the experiences of his own members, that the same communities that are bearing the brunt of environmental injustice are the same ones bearing burdens of economic injustice.

All of the leaders agreed that there’s no reason we have to accept this level of unemployment when changing the infrastructure for this country is in need.  If you’re not able to attend Good Jobs, Green Jobs 2013, or even if you are at the conference, tell us why you care about this work together. Share your thoughts and ideas on Facebook and Twitter, @GJGJConference or conference. We’re here and together we make progress more progress than we can on our own.  

Posted In: Infrastructure, Climate Change, United Steelworkers, Sierra Club, SEIU, Communications Workers of America

The following blog is crossposted courtesy of the Communications Workers of America (CWA):

CWAers at New Flyer will soon start manufacturing up to 900 environmentally-friendly compressed natural gas buses for Los Angeles, creating about 150 jobs at the Minnesota plant and 50 jobs at a new California service center.

"It's a big boost for us because we're in contract negotiations in three weeks," said John Desm, president of CWA Local 7304.

The $302.9 million contract from LA Metro -- finalized just last week -- was the result of a strong movement building campaign.

It all started last summer with Desm's work with CWA Legislative Director Shane Larson to pressure members of Congress to pass a new transportation bill. That bill freed up federal funding so cities could purchase new buses, and New Flyer put in a bid with LA Metro.

When Blue Green Alliance, a partnership between 14 of the country's largest unions and environmental organizations, heard through the grapevine that New Flyer was a finalist for the LA Metro contract, it immediately reached out to CWA Local 7304. Brian Lombardozzi, a senior policy analyst at the alliance, gathered material to paint a clear picture of what these manufacturing jobs in Minnesota meant for workers, but also the greater community. It was a great narrative: This contract could potentially create an extra third shift in production that would boost employment at the factory and give a big boost to the local economy. Los Angeles taxpayer dollars would go towards employing high-skilled, union workers working with cutting-edge technology.

CWA President Larry Cohen worked to get that information into the hands of Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. And Durazo sent a letter to LA Metro supporting New Flyer's bid.

"We have heard from a representative group of workers form the New Flyer facility in Minnesota," she wrote. "According to these workers -- who we have encouraged to separately write to you -- the facility in Minnesota is completely unionized, provides good wages, benefits and excellent working conditions and provides ongoing training and career path opportunities for all their employees."

Desm began taking transit officials on tours of the factory in St. Cloud, Minn. At the same time, CWA, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy and AFL-CIO rallied workers for a flyer campaign and actions in California to raise awareness about New Flyer's bid.

"I thought, 'Wow, look at this network. We have people who we don't even know supporting us there,'" said Desm. "For me, it's an eye opener. Look at the power."

New Flyer is planning to start hiring workers for the St. Cloud manufacturing facility in April, and it's preparing to open a new service center in Los Angeles, which will employ another 50 workers. Under the contract, LA Metro has ordered 550 buses with an option for another 350 buses in the future.

"Everything is hand built. We practically build Lamborghinis -- in other words, no automation in our plant and everything is built here in America," said Desm. "You can't get more Build America than what we're doing right now." 

Now the goal is use LA Metro and New Flyer as a model for other large transportation projects.

"Victories take a long time to get," said Lombardozzi, who has been working on getting transit agencies to buy domestic products and support good union jobs since 2010. "But hopefully we can build on this one get some more."

Photo: CWA members at New Flyer Bus Company.

Posted In: Transportation, Trade/Make it in America, Communications Workers of America

With only six days left until Michigan voters head to the polls to cast their ballots on Proposal 2, a broad coalition of supporters who are backing better wages and safer working conditions, environmental leaders and local workers spoke out about the importance of voting yes on Proposal 2 in Michigan. Proposal 2 ensures that future generations benefit from basic rights that give workers a say when it comes to protecting their health, as well as negotiating and enforcing agreements between themselves and their employers.

“Collective bargaining means safer workers, safer communities and better jobs for all of us. Workers who can collectively bargain not only protect themselves, they also safeguard our neighborhoods, our communities and our environment, and raise up the wages and benefits for all of us,” said Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. “It’s important that we pull together to build on that progress and give working families the opportunity to provide better lives for their children, and Prop 2 does just that.”

Proposal 2 protects collective bargaining rights and prevents attempts to weaken these protections in the future.

“Everyone who values clean environments and safe, secure and prosperous communities should support this critical ballot initiative,” said Anne Woiwode, State Director for the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter. “The rights secured by Proposal 2 are essential for strengthening and protecting the hardworking, middle-class families who are the backbone of Michigan communities.”

“Some Michigan lawmakers are doing everything they can to abolish workers’ rights to organize and collectively bargain,” said Mark Schauer, National Co-Chair of the BlueGreen Alliance’s Jobs21! initiative. “But, giving Michigan’s working families a voice to negotiate for fair wages, benefits and working conditions that are good for them and safe for our communities and our environment is as important today as it ever has been.”

At a rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan this week in support of Proposal 2, event participants spoke specifically to the protections that make the middle class strong by ensuring workers have a voice in their workplace and in the nation’s policies, advocating more equitable wages, humane work conditions, and improved benefits. Joining Sierra Club and the BlueGreen Alliance in outspoken support of the proposal were local workers, the Union of Scientists and Michigan Clean Water Action.

“We can and we must protect the rights of working people in Michigan,” said Kevin Riley, a meat cutter at Meijer in Grand Rapids. “Putting these rights in our constitution is something the politicians and corporations cannot take away, and it will benefit future generations of Michiganders, both economically and environmentally. We must stand together to protect the right to negotiate for good jobs with cleaner, safer and healthier workplaces.” 

“We cannot afford to go back to a time when corporations could make up the rules as they go along, regarding working conditions, workplace safety, environmental protection and worker pay,” said Ben Scheid, an AT&T worker. “Michigan’s workers and families can’t afford it, that’s why I support Proposal 2.”

The supporters said that without collective bargaining rights our environment is endangered and workers face more risks on the job.

“Collective bargaining rights are as American as apple pie,” said Kevin Knobloch, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists. “These rights have strengthened our democracy and our economy by protecting working families from exploitation and by expanding economic opportunities.  The overt, well-funded attacks on workers’ rights are like the overt, well-funded attacks on science that we have been fighting— and both, if successful, would weaken our democracy.”

“Collective bargaining has been the driving force behind improved work place safety and protecting Michigan workers from over exposure to toxic chemicals,” said Nic Clark, Executive Director of Michigan Clean Water Action. “Clean Water Action is proud to stand with labor on voting yes for Proposal 2.” 

Press Coverage

WPRR 1680 AM Radio Working Family Radio Network, Grand Rapids, MI October 26, 2012 (interview starts at 35:40) 

WPRR 1680 AM Radio Working Family Radio Network, Grand Rapids, MI October 29, 2012 (interview starts at 44:00) 

WKZO AM 590/FM 96.5 Kalamazoo, MI, October 29, 2012  (not available online) 

Gongwer News Service: Environmental Groups Join Collective Bargaining Proposal Proponents, October 29, 2012 (Excerpt, subscription required)
The BlueGreen Alliance and the Sierra Club joined major unions backing the proposal to enshrine collective bargaining rights in the Constitution on Monday, citing safer working environments and better-paying jobs as reasons to get involved.  

Grand Rapids Press/ Sierra Club leader headlines Proposal 2 rally in Grand Rapids October 29, 2012

Posted In: Michigan, Workers' Rights, Communications Workers of America, Sierra Club, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union

The following blog is cross-posted from the Communications Workers of America Speed Matters blog.

In September, the UN Broadband Commission released its annual report, The State Of Broadband 2012: Achieving Digital Inclusion For All. The commission takes a global look at broadband in both the developing and developed worlds, and what it found this year is encouraging, but not entirely flattering for the United States.

The Broadband Commission for Digital Development was established in 2010 by UNESCO and he International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to help meet the UN's Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It measured broadband by several parameters and found:

The U.S. continues to lag behind in fixed (wired)-broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants. At number 18, the U.S. trails France, the U.K., South Korea and even Malta.

When it comes to mobile broadband penetration, the U.S. does better, coming in ninth, but still runs behind Japan, Korea, Finland and Singapore. The U.S. posts 65.5 active mobile subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, while Japan registers 93.7.

And worst, in percentage of individuals using the Internet, the U.S. ranks only 23rd at 78 percent, well behind the Scandinavian countries, Canada, Germany and the U.K., as well as Qatar, Andorra and Antigua and Barbados.

As the report says in its introduction, "High-speed affordable broadband connectivity to the Internet is essential to modern society, offering widely recognized economic and social benefits."

The report cites a 2012 study by the Boston Consulting Group which "estimated the size of the Internet economy in the G20 countries at around US$ 2.3 trillion or 4.1% of GDP in 2010; by 2016, this could nearly double to US$4.2 trillion."

Although the U.S. investment in the Internet is huge and broadband is an integral part of the economy and social life, we still fail to include broad swaths of the population in this growth. Speed Matters points out that the digital divide is not simply between the developed and developing world, but in this case also within a rich country. We can do better.

The State Of Broadband 2012: Achieving Digital Inclusion For All (UN Broadband Commission, Sep. 2012)
Broadband Commission for Digital Development (website)
UN Broadband Commission finds Internet usage lagging behind (, Oct. 2, 2012)

Posted In: Broadband, Communications Workers of America

The following post is from Sara Letourneau, Labor Climate Project Director for the BlueGreen Alliance.

Yesterday in Kalamazoo, we had supporters from the Teamsters, Steelworkers, National Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, IBEW Local 58, and others at our press event targeting Energy and Commerce Chair Fred Upton. After our event, a few folks stayed to deliver our press release and talk to the staff at Chair Upton’s office. We even recorded a short video for him. 

Today, we were in the Virginia Statehouse. It’s a beautiful structure and we were joined by CWA members, Sierra Club, and our very own Michael Williams. After the physical event, we held a tele-press conference for Virginia media. Listen below.

Flash Required


Overall, this tour was simply awesome. Ryan Motel, Lee Geisse and I all had a blast heading from Pittsburgh to Columbus to Dayton to Kalamazoo to Richmond. That’s a lot of driving and we hit some bad weather, but overall the trip has been safe, and most importantly, we’ve been getting the message out to the public and Congressional leaders that we need action now to save thousands of jobs like Ryan’s. Check out some of the press highlights from the trip below:

From E&E News Subscription only:

"Congress must renew the production tax credit," said David Foster, executive director of the BlueGreen Alliance. "The lives of real Americans are being disrupted; jobs are at stake as well as future environmental performance."

From the Alliance Review (OH) Subscription only

The BlueGreen Alliance made the call Tuesday during a press conference at the Statehouse that featured a Pennsylvania steelworker whose position was furloughed. 

"If companies aren't building wind farms because they are not sure what their return on their investment will be, they aren't buying our blades," said Ryan Motel, a member of United Steelworkers Local 2635. He added, "I hope the folks in Congress will see my face, hear my voice and know the people they are hurting because they won't pass this bill creating a tax incentive."

From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (PA): 

In late August, Gamesa Energy laid off 165 at plants in Ebensburg and Bucks County. It cited dwindling demand for its products in the United States because of the endangered tax credit. Similarly, wind turbine maker Siemens Wind Power on Sept. 18 announced it would lay off more than 600 workers at plants in Iowa and Kansas.

“Embrace this technology or let good jobs like mine die,” Ryan Motel, 26, a laid-off wind industry worker said at a news conference at the Energy Innovation Center in the Lower Hill District on Tuesday. He was part of the BlueGreen Alliance’s kick-off of a four-state tour to gain support for the tax credits.

“I hope the folks in Congress will see my face and hear my voice,” said Motel, of Hastings, Cambria County, who was laid off from his quality inspector job by Gamesa.

Now, you can help us continue to put the pressure on by visiting a few minutes and use the tools there to write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper or contact your members of Congress. We have to get this done for the future of our economy and our enviornment.  

Posted In: Virginia, Michigan, Clean Energy, Communications Workers of America, United Steelworkers, Sierra Club
ChemHAT Logo


The BlueGreen Alliance is proud to release the new ChemHAT (Chemical Hazard and Alternatives Toolbox) website. This free database of more than 10,000 chemicals was developed based a simple idea: When people know the facts about the chemicals they use every day, they can take protective action.

A simple idea, but, when we brought together a group of IUE-CWA rank and file members, we found that getting that chemical hazard information isn’t easy. When IUE-CWA members looked at the existing databases out there, they found that either the websites were complex to navigate or they were written in terms used by scientist when talking to other scientists. 

From these conversations, ChemHAT was born.

What makes ChemHAT different?

The biggest difference in ChemHAT — a tool, remember, designed by workers for workers — is that instead of a lot of complicated words or charts, ChemHAT tells users the acute and chronic effects of a chemical using a series of simple to understand symbols. Some of these possible effects include:

  • Eye or skin irritation;
  • Asthma;
  • Cancer;
  • Birth Defects;
  • Reproductive Issues. 

The information contained in ChemHAT comes from the Chemical and Material Library (CML) created by the Healthy Building Network for its Pharos database of chemicals and materials in building products. The CML is a first-of-its-kind database that checks a library of over 22,000 chemicals and materials against 30 authoritative chemical hazard lists and nine restricted substances lists developed by state, national, and international governmental agencies and other reputable, science-based non-governmental organizations.

What’s Next?

ChemHAT Alternatives GraphicNow that we’ve launched ChemHAT, our work is not done. Once we began work and connected with the Pharos Database, it was easy to finish our first goal of providing information about the effects of chemicals. 

We don’t want to stop there. We, ultimately, do not want ChemHAT to be a site that tells workers about the health hazards of chemicals and steps they can take to protect themselves (like wearing gloves or other protective measures); our work is now focused on developing a way to let workers know about safer alternatives to hazardous chemicals (see image for examples) so they can start talking with their employers about replacing dangerous chemicals with safer products and processes. 

Want to Learn More?

We’ll be holding a webinar to walk interested individuals through the ChemHAT database at Tuesday, September 25 at 12:30 EDT. Please join us (registration and more information is available here). 

How Can You Help?

ChemHAT is truly a work in progress. We invite you to poke around the site and then drop us a note telling us what you think.

Additionally, feel free to add a link to ChemHAT on the website for your organization, union, or business. A sample banner is available on the top of this post.

Posted In: Work, Environment and Public Health, Communications Workers of America
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