Biden Spotlight on Climate Focuses on Good-Paying, Union Jobs and Restoring American Leadership

On his first day in office, President Joe Biden has taken executive actions to rejoin the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, reverse the Trump administration’s deregulatory environmental actions, and advance racial justice. In response, the BlueGreen Alliance released the following statement from Executive Director Jason Walsh:

“Today we return to American climate leadership. President Biden’s actions to rejoin the Paris Agreement and roll back damaging efforts to weaken our nation’s fuel economy and methane standards will fight the climate crisis and grow good-paying, union jobs at a time when working families desperately need them.

“Additionally, the executive actions taken today to advance racial justice are a welcome step toward addressing the pervasive and persistent inequality that plagues our nation.”

Time to Get to Work

After Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were sworn into office as President and Vice President of the United States, the BlueGreen Alliance released the following statement from Executive Director Jason Walsh:

“Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the leaders America needs to get us through the crises we face. They will protect workers on the job, deliver good-paying union jobs repairing and modernizing our infrastructure and retooling and rebuilding our manufacturing sector, and restore America’s leadership on climate change to build a clean, thriving, and equitable economy for all.

“Now it’s time to get to work.”

You can view a summary of the agenda the BlueGreen Alliance sent to the Biden administration here.

7 Things President Biden Can do to Deliver a Clean, Thriving, and Equitable Economy

President Biden and Vice President Harris have the opportunity to pull us out of crisis and put us on the path to a clean, thriving, and equitable economy. Here are seven things that the Biden administration can do:

  1. First and foremost, we must fight to defeat COVID-19 and ensure the health and safety of frontline workers on the job. This should be a priority from day one and President Biden should immediately issue an executive order on COVID-19 response requiring the enactment of emergency standards to protect workers, which are included in the COVID-19 relief plan Biden released last week.
  2. The Biden administration must also prioritize economic recovery by driving a national strategy and passing an economic recovery package through Congress. Our nation’s economy has taken a beating due to the pandemic but, frankly, it already wasn’t working for too many even before COVID. The administration must take action to create and retain high-quality, family-sustaining union jobs and prioritize communities and workers most in need in the recovery.
  3. This should begin with investments now to transform America’s infrastructure and rebuild American manufacturing. Doing so will require the creation of a National Manufacturing Strategy, investments in retooling our industrial base, and massive investment in an infrastructure plan that prioritizes high-road labor standards and buying clean, American-made materials.
  4. After years of inaction it’s time to get back on track to tackle climate change and environmental challenges at the scale demanded by science and principles of justice. This includes restoring U.S. global leadership on climate by rejoining the Paris Agreement. We must also reject Trump’s decisions that would cost us jobs and increase pollution, like his efforts to scrap methane standards and weaken clean vehicle standards.
  5. The incoming administration must also commit to expanding workers’ rights and power, and make sure our basic systems are ready to protect workers and their families—whether it is a pandemic or a climate disaster. This includes reinvesting in and rebuilding the public sector and public services, expanding union density across the country, and providing critical long-term support and protections for workers.
  6. We must finally truly inject fairness, equity and justice into our society and prioritize investments in job creation, pollution reduction, and climate resilience in communities most in need, including low-income communities, communities of color, deindustrialized communities, tribes, and communities and workers impacted by our energy transition.
  7. Finally, after truly shocking displays of attempted voter suppressions during the recent election, the Biden administration must fight to defend democracy and work to pass legislation protecting the right for all Americans to vote.

Polling Shows Broad Support in Midwest for Biden Administration, Congress to Retool and Rebuild American Manufacturing

New polling released today by the BlueGreen Alliance showed voters in the Midwest vigorously support making rebuilding and retooling the American manufacturing sector a critical component of recovery efforts by Congress or the Biden administration. Hart Research conducted the poll of 1,500 registered voters in Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin from November 17-23, which showed that among voters in the Industrial Midwest:

  • 86% said it is important (71% very important) to rebuild and retool American manufacturing to make the products we need here at home, including modernizing our factories to produce less pollution and investing in clean technologies;
  • 83% said it is important (64% very important) that we modernize American manufacturing so that we are producing more goods—like cars, steel, and electronics—in an environmentally friendly way; and
  • 73% said the president and Congress should make it a top or high priority to pass a plan that includes elements of the BlueGreen Alliance’s manufacturing agenda.

“COVID-19 has ravaged the health of the public and millions are still out of work. We need Congress and President-elect Biden to deliver immediate relief and long-term economic recovery,” said Jason Walsh, Executive Director of the BlueGreen Alliance. “This poll shows voters in the Industrial Midwest want to focus on retooling and rebuilding American manufacturing. President-elect Biden and Congress need to make building the technologies of the future here in America a central component of a long-term plan to rebuild our economy after this crisis.”

The poll also found that voters overwhelmingly support the individual elements of the BlueGreen Alliance’s manufacturing agenda, including:

  • 95% said they were favorable or somewhat favorable toward making sure investments in manufacturing create good-paying jobs with good benefits, and ensure health and safety for workers and communities;
  • 84% said they were favorable or somewhat favorable toward modernizing American industries, such as steel, aluminum, and glass, to manufacture these critical products in a way that produces less pollution; and
  • 83% were favorable or somewhat favorable toward retooling American factories to produce the cutting-edge products of the future, like clean vehicles and energy technologies.

“It’s clear there is broad support for a manufacturing plan that helps us to build the clean economy of the future, among Biden supporters and Trump supporters, and among white voters and voters of color,” said Walsh. “We need a recovery plan now that invests in manufacturing and prepares the United States to compete in the global economy to build the technologies of the future and to invest in our existing industries—like steel, cement, and aluminum—to make them cleaner and more competitive. This is a plan everyone can get behind.”

Biden Covid-19 Relief Plan Offers Much Needed Aid for Working Families, Protections for Workers

President-elect Joe Biden today released his American Rescue Plan, a COVID-19 relief plan that includes among other provisions $1,400 stimulus payments, an extension of boosted unemployment insurance, funding for vaccine distribution and delivery, funding for cities, states, schools, child care, and would require the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health and Administration (OSHA) to issue enforceable rules to protect workers during the crisis. In response, the BlueGreen Alliance released the following statement from Executive Director Jason Walsh:

“The plan released today will finally put us on the path to delivering much needed relief for working people and their families, protecting workers on the job, and funding for state and local governments and schools, which has been lacking from recent relief measures.

“We look forward to working with the Biden administration and Congress to get this plan over the finish line, and to develop a long term economic recovery plan that will deliver a clean, thriving, and equitable economy for all.”

Biden’s Climate Team Will Help Move America to Clean, Fair, Thriving Economy

President-elect Joe Biden has announced his climate nominees and appointees. The team includes Congresswoman Deb Haaland (D-NM) as Secretary of the Interior; former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm as Secretary of Energy; Michael Regan as U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator; Brenda Mallory as Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality; Gina McCarthy as National Climate Advisor; and Ali Zaidi as Deputy National Climate Advisor.

Following the announcement, the BlueGreen Alliance released a statement from Executive Director Jason Walsh:

“President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris recognize that climate change is a crisis that we must face and take action on immediately. The team President-elect Biden has chosen will take this crisis and turn it into an opportunity to create the good-paying, union jobs that will be the foundation for a clean, fair, thriving economy.

“I want to congratulate all the members of this climate team. We look forward to working with them. I also want to thank Natural Resources Defense Council President and CEO Gina McCarthy for her hard work at that organization and her exceptional leadership within the BlueGreen Alliance.”

BlueGreen Alliance Lauds New Partnership Between Ørsted and North America’s Building Trades Union

“America’s offshore wind potential is huge and this partnership between a leader worldwide in the industry and the unions representing more than three million skilled craft professionals will ensure that as we meet that potential the building and construction jobs we create are good-paying, safe, accessible union jobs.

“We know that a just transition to a clean economy means we leave no worker or community behind. The best way to do that is to approach the transition in a way that maximizes the gain for working people by ensuring the quality of the jobs created through partnerships like this one.

“Offshore wind can also play a pivotal role in securing and growing good jobs in America’s manufacturing sector. The next step must be ensuring the supply chain—from raw materials to components—be built domestically and that the operations and maintenance jobs are also good-paying, union jobs if we are to fully capitalize on the economic benefits of America’s offshore wind growth.”

BlueGreen Alliance Congratulates President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris

Following the projection that former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) have been elected President and Vice President of the United States of America, the BlueGreen Alliance released the following statement from Executive Director Jason Walsh:

“We sincerely congratulate President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their victory. With their leadership our nation will move forward as we face the ongoing pandemic and the interconnected crises of climate change and income and racial inequality. The will of the American people has been heard and we now look forward to working with the incoming administration to build a fairer, more sustainable, and more just future for America.”

Donald Trump Has Misled American Workers and We’re All Paying the Price

Donald Trump is once again making sweeping statements of success and false promises from sea to shining swing state. But the numbers—and the facts—tell a different story. Donald Trump claims he fights for working-class people and their families. He said he would protect jobs and revive dying industries. His actions have made us less safe and cost us jobs by sending innovation overseas.

He has made workers less safe. Throughout his administration, the number of OSHA inspectors has declined, which has made workplaces less safe. Where it was once difficult for regulators to effectively survey workplaces, it is now physically impossible for inspectors to even visit every site, much less conduct a thorough inspection. Technically, where staffing is now, OSHA only has enough inspectors to inspect workplaces once every 165 years.

The decline of OSHA inspections has very real consequences — particularly in the age of COVID-19. General safety issues are at risk, but while a deadly pandemic ravages the global population, safety regulations are more important than ever. However, OSHA has once again fallen short of standing up for the very people they are tasked to protect. For instance, in the meatpacking industry, one in eleven workers have contracted COVID-19, and the plants that don’t take proper safety precautions — like shutting down production when there is an outbreak — receive fines that are consistently less than what it costs to buy a used car.

Another case in point: the rollback of the Chemical Disaster Rule. This rule was created to protect workers and communities from chemical releases and explosions. After dismantling the rule completely for two years, when it was reinstated, the administration significantly weakened the rule.

This was a rule put in place for a reason. Around our country there have been fires, explosions, and chemical leaks that have killed workers and first responders. This rule was put in place because of what happened at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas (caution that video is disturbing even taken from a significant distance). Fifteen first responders gave their lives and buildings for a mile around the explosion were damaged, including a school that—thankfully and luckily—wasn’t full of kids. By rolling back the Chemical Disaster Rule, he has not only made workplaces less safe, but he has also put communities at risk.

“Donald Trump is the worst president for workers and the environment in our lifetime.”

Donald Trump has again and again touted how clean our environment is, but his actions have made our water less safe and our air more polluted. His disregard for the environment and existing protections is frightening. He chose to roll back methane standards for the oil and gas industry that were put in place to stop the unnecessary leaks and waste seen throughout the industry. Cost-effective technology can stop these leaks and methane is a very potent greenhouse gas that impacts our climate. Carcinogens — like benzene — leak with the methane and endanger workers on the job.

One of Trump’s biggest promises was that he would bring jobs to the U.S. — his actions have done the opposite. Donald Trump is proud to have rolled back regulations that would have spurred innovation and created jobs. For example, creating and installing the technologies to stop the methane leaks in oil and gas fields would have created an estimated 50,000 jobs in the next decade. When he rolled back the methane standards he rolled back those jobs as well.

With emissions standards already in place for years, the automotive industry had already begun to adapt and innovate cleaner cars, trucks, and SUVs. When he rolled back these regulations, he ensured that other countries will eclipse the U.S. in manufacturing these new technologies. The rollback will—by his own administration’s estimate—cost workers in our nation an estimated 50,000–60,000 future manufacturing jobs in the automotive industry.

Donald Trump is the worst president for workers and the environment in our lifetime. He has dismantled worker safety regulations, cut staff at the agency that is supposed to protect workers on the job, and stepped away from environmental policies that keep the nation’s air and water clean. His decisions cost the nation the jobs of the future and endangered our existing workforce — they must be reversed. If you want to learn more about how Donald Trump misled America, read our full, comprehensive report here.

Jason Walsh is the Executive Director of the BlueGreen Alliance.

BlueGreen Alliance Applauds Governor Whitmer’s Leadership on Climate, Good Jobs, and Just Transition

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer today announced an executive order that will put the state on a path to be carbon neutral by 2050. Following the announcement, the BlueGreen Alliance released a statement from Michigan Regional Program Manager Frank Houston:

“We applaud Gov. Whitmer’s leadership on the climate crisis and appreciate that she listened to voices from across the state as she prepared this order.

“We know that clean energy is a tremendous opportunity and need for our state—both to create good-paying, union jobs and to protect our air and water. We also know that this move to cleaner energy impacts workers around the state and now—thanks to Gov. Whitmer’s leadership in this order—we will not leave workers and communities behind as we move forward to a cleaner, fairer energy future.”

New Report by Environmental Justice and Labor Groups Calls for Deep Investments in Social Infrastructure for Climate Resilience

Leading environmental justice and labor groups released a new report today recommending that California policymakers invest in building equitable, community-driven social infrastructure for Californians facing the greatest risks from climate change with the fewest material resources to recover.

Resilience Before Disaster: The Need to Build Equitable, Community-Driven Social Infrastructure, jointly released by Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN), Service Employees International Union California (SEIU CA), SEIU Local 2015, and the BlueGreen Alliance, makes the case for California to make long-term and deep investments in the resilience of its most vulnerable communities.

“Any crisis is a threat multiplier for inequality,” said Amee Raval, Research Director at Asian Pacific Environmental Network. “Whether it’s a global pandemic, mass power shutoffs, or devastating wildfires, the impacts and risks are dramatically different depending on who you are and where you live.  That’s why we need to strengthen the existing social fabric in communities, coordinate with local governments, invest in resilience hubs and services, and train workers and community members to prepare for and respond to shocks.”

Most of California’s efforts to promote climate adaptation and resilience have focused on improving hard infrastructure–roads, bridges, and other physical infrastructure–without a complementary commitment to social infrastructure, the people, services, and facilities that secure the economic, health, cultural, and social well-being of the community.  

“We’ve heard a lot about resilience in terms of hardening buildings for fire, earthquakes, and other natural and climate disasters,” said Sam Appel, California policy organizer with BlueGreen Alliance. “We need to start thinking of resilience as supporting the people who live inside these buildings.”

“The multi-layered crisis we are facing has put a spotlight on the critical importance of investing in the care workers, social workers, and neighbors who are already part of the social infrastructure of our communities. We often serve as the community’s first responders when there is an emergency,” said April Verrett, President of SEIU Local 2015.  “We need to build the capacity of our caregivers, public services and supports, the healthcare system, and community-based organizations through investment, training, and aligned systems and  networks in order to adequately and equitably respond to the needs of all Californians.”

The report provides a state-level policy framework for community resilience by building out two models: (1) Resilience Hubs and (2) In-Home Resilience. This dual approach to resilience captures the need for both centralized spaces and distributed systems that promote resilience within a community. Importantly, these models integrate disaster response and recovery with amplifying the existing social assets that are already embedded in communities.

Resilience Before Disaster offers a set of recommendations to build resilient communities throughout California:

 

  • Fund Resilience Hubs: California should lead funding efforts to support the development of Resilience Hubs – spaces where communities gather, organize, and access social services on a daily basis – starting in communities with the highest need.  These spaces must be equipped to provide support for disaster response and recovery. The report highlights RYSE Youth Center, a youth-led community center in Richmond, which is taking steps toward becoming an innovative Resilience Hub model by exemplifying a community-led governance approach to infrastructure development and program delivery.
  • Establish Resilience Hub Networks: City and County governments should facilitate the development of local Resilience Hubs to implement community resilience solutions on a regional scale, share best practices, and offer complementary services.
  • Invest in the Care Workforce: Home care workers already have the skills and relationships to assist people with access and functional needs, and often bridge the gap between the populations they serve and public and community agencies. A well-trained and empowered home care workforce can play a key role in disaster preparedness and response and bolster In-Home Resilience for the people they serve.  The state should implement strategies to turn these difficult low-wage jobs into high road careers.
  • Rebuild the Public Sector Workforce: We must commit to growing a robust public sector workforce capable of meeting the needs of vulnerable populations and supporting community resilience. We need a full complement of public health, human services, public works, library, school, parks and recreation, and sustainability workers to achieve our climate goals. 
  • Improve Emergency Response to Protect the Most Vulnerable: The state must target resources to the most vulnerable communities, particularly working-class communities of color who are disproportionately impacted by systemic racism and historic economic disinvestment.  The state must also develop a comprehensive strategy for protecting medically vulnerable populations in the event of power shut offs and increase funding for initiatives to improve disaster preparedness and emergency response efforts for California’s vulnerable populations.

“The time has come for California to make long-term and deep investments in the resilience of its most vulnerable communities,” said Christopher Calhoun, Director of Public Affairs with SEIU California. “With tight budgets and poor fiscal forecasts, there will be pressure to revert to austerity, cut public expenditures, and recreate the conditions that have so severely weakened the safety net. Instead, the state must do exactly the opposite: recover through ambitious investments in people and communities.”

“This pandemic is a teachable moment for elected leaders and the public. The lesson is one that public health nurses already know: the health and safety of the public require robust public health systems, and we have neglected public health for years,” said Markeitha Harris, a public health nurse in Los Angeles County and a member of SEIU Local 721. “We need to learn from our mistakes. We weren’t prepared for the pandemic because our public hospitals, clinics, and other support programs have been chronically underfunded. As climate change continues to create health crises, the role of public health systems will only grow.”

The full report and factsheet are accessible online:

What others are saying:

California Environmental Justice Alliance

“We are witnessing the devastating results of climate change right now, and our communities need to be better prepared, especially for working-class communities of color where decades of underinvestment in public services, combined with economic and social barriers to accessing protective resources, create disproportionate risks.” Jose Torres, Energy Equity Program Manager, California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA)

California Federation of Labor

“After the past few weeks, it’s hard to imagine a future without wildfire, smoke filled air, and intense heat, ” said John Brauer, Executive Director of Economic and Workforce Development, California Federation of Labor.  “Fortunately, this report helps us see a future where the people impacted have places to seek respite, and services to rely on to protect them from harm.  We need to invest in the care workforce and vital public services to build resilience in our communities so we don’t leave anyone behind” 

Union of Concerned Scientists

“There is so much we must do to prepare for catastrophes brought on by climate change. At the Union of Concerned Scientists we have been working to make sure that the best science informs the design of critical infrastructure, like bridges, roads, power grids and dams. While these physical infrastructure upgrades are desperately needed, it is equally important that we build the community and social infrastructure to keep people safe. Resilience Before Disaster provides needed insights into how we can better prepare communities for climate disasters.” Jason Barbose, Western States Senior Policy Manager, Union of Concerned Scientists

UC Berkeley Labor Center 

“To recover our economy and make progress in the fight against climate change we need to invest more not less in our social infrastructure and create family-sustaining jobs. Budget cuts and austerity measures will further weaken our communities’ ability to rebound and face future crises. The report proposes the kind of bold actions we need to address the multiple crises facing our state.” Ken Jacobs, Chair, UC Berkeley Labor Center

Communities for A Better Environment

“As our frontline communities experience toxic wildfire smoke, extreme heat, power blackouts, all amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing the dangers of fighting the climate crisis without being prepared. We know the effects of climate change, already intense and frightening, are only going to worsen, and we need to prepare now by investing in social supports like community resilience hubs to meet the needs of those most impacted.” Laura Gracia, CARE Coordinator, Communities for A Better Environment (CBE)

Jennifer Granholm 

“Covid-19, wildfires, and suffocating smoke have exposed gaping holes in our safety net, leaving the most vulnerable at risk and our frontline essential workers stretched to the breaking point. An equitable recovery will require leadership and policy solutions that invest in people and communities, like those offered by this report.”  said Jennifer Granholm, UC Berkeley School of Law & Goldman School of Public Policy and former Governor of Michigan

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Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) is an environmental justice organization that brings together California’s Asian immigrant and refugee communities to fight and win campaigns to make our communities healthy, just places where people can thrive. 

SEIU California provides a political and legislative voice for 700,000 workers in California, including home care providers, education workers, city, county, and state workers, nurses and other health care workers, janitors, security officers, airport workers, college professors, and more.

SEIU Local 2015 represents more than 385,000 home care, skilled nursing facility, and assisted living center workers, of every race, faith, and ethnicity, united in our commitment to caring for California’s vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities.

The BlueGreen Alliance unites America’s largest labor unions and its most influential environmental organizations to solve today’s environmental challenges in ways that create and maintain quality jobs and build a stronger, fairer economy.

As Trump Travels to Minnesota and Wisconsin to Tout Record, New Report Spotlights Trump Administration’s Attacks on Workers, the Environment, and Jobs

Ahead of President Trump’s rallies in Minnesota and Wisconsin, the BlueGreen Alliance today released Misled: The Impact of the Trump Administration’s Agenda on Working Families and the Environment, an interactive report exploring the real world impacts of the Trump administration’s actions on workers’ rights and safety, environmental protection, job creation, and pandemic response.

“This report illustrates the many ways that Donald Trump is failing American workers, endangering the environment and our communities, and putting lives at risk,” BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director Jason Walsh said. “Families and communities in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and all around our nation have suffered the consequences of the president’s decisions. This report focuses on the impacts of some of the most egregious actions by the administration on workers’ rights and safety, environmental protection, job creation, and pandemic response, as a comprehensive look at the negative impacts of this administration on the nation would fill the Library of Congress.”

The report found the Trump administration rolled back numerous policies designed to protect workers, communities, and the environment. Under the false premise that these actions would create jobs, President Trump dismantled worker safety regulations, starved the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of staff and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of power, and stepped away from environmental policies that keep the nation’s air and water clean. The report should provide workers and others with the information they need to understand the current impact of these policies and work toward changing them to protect workers and our communities.

The report further explores the impact of the Trump administration on communities of color. The group urged the Trump administration to reverse these actions.

“President Trump’s claims to be pro-worker, pro-family, and pro-environment are demonstrably false, as made clear by his actions over the course of the last three-and-a-half years,” Walsh said. “This president has put countless lives at risk in communities across the nation, he’s failed to protect workers during a massive global health crisis, he’s ceded tens of thousands of jobs to other countries, and he’s allowed for more pollution to be dumped into our air and water. It’s no wonder Trump is running around the country talking about America needing a ‘comeback,’ as every American is living with the consequences of his actions over the last three years.”

Click below to view the report.

Misled