Year-End Priorities Letter to House Leadership

 There is opportunity to make real progress in key areas around climate change and job creation. We urge you to take advantage of the closing weeks of this session to advance key priorities.

Specifically, before 2019 comes to a close, we urge Congress to:

1. Fulfill our nation’s responsibility to coal miners and coal communities by passing bills targeted at reinvestment in these communities and protection of coal miners’ health and wellbeing.

2. Invest in clean energy. We also urged Congress to include critical clean energy tax credits in any end-of-year spending package.

3. Pass bills to invest in infrastructure, advance innovation, and protect workers.

We also urged that Congress ensure that the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) only come to a vote if it levels the playing field and makes deep reforms to strengthen workers’ rights and climate and environmental standards, with independent and binding enforcement.

Buy Clean America Summit: Harnessing Government Purchasing Power to Close the Carbon Loophole

October 23rd, 2019

8:30 am – 3:30 pm

Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center

1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20004

The manufacture of raw building materials like steel and cement produces 11% of total global greenhouse gas emissions and is on the rise. But because these commodities are exported around the world, the countries that consume them rarely account for the carbon it took to produce them, and manufacturers are not rewarded for making low-carbon products.

Buy Clean policies help close this “carbon loophole” by spending taxpayer dollars on climate-friendly materials for infrastructure and building projects. Widescale adoption of Buy Clean state and federal purchasing programs would reward companies that are cleaner and more efficient. It would also give American manufacturers and workers a tremendous opportunity to take the lead in growing markets for low-carbon products.

This event will bring together leaders from policy, industry, labor, NGOs, and philanthropy to discuss recent successes with Buy Clean, opportunities to expand these victories at the state and federal level, and what this could mean for US manufacturers, workers, and the fight against climate change.

We would love to have you join us!

RSVP HERE.

 

 

BlueGreen Alliance Testimony Before U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Multilateral International Development, Multilateral Institutions, and International Economic, Energy, and Environmental Policy

BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director Kim Glas testified today before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Multilateral International Development, Multilateral Institutions, and International Economic, Energy, and Environmental Policy examining a multilateral and strategic response to international predatory economic practices. The BlueGreen Alliance believes that trade agreements should have strong enforcement mechanisms and include strong and binding labor and environmental protections—including wage and environmental standards—in their core text.

NAFTA Renegotiation Comes to Washington, DC as Labor and Environmental Groups Grow More Concerned

“America needs to change its approach to trade deals and negotiate a new NAFTA agreement that supports good union jobs, livable wages, healthy communities, clean air and water, and a more stable climate. In The Road to Fair Trade Deals we laid out exactly how we can achieve that, including a transparent and inclusive renegotiation process; eliminating unelected corporate tribunals used to undermine labor and environmental protections; including binding labor and environmental protections in the core text; implementing stronger, independent enforcement; protecting and promoting ‘Buy America’ policies; and strengthening standards for rules of origins.

“It’s time for a trade agreement that levels the playing field and makes deep reforms to strengthen workers’ rights and environmental standards.”

As NAFTA Renegotiation Begins, U.S. Senator Bob Casey, Pennsylvania Leaders Discuss Transforming America’s Trade Policy

PITTSBURGH (August 16, 2017) While the Trump administration begins negotiations behind closed doors on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), leaders throughout Pittsburgh are calling for negotiations that are conducted openly with public input.

U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) joined a diverse group of labor, environmental, and civic leaders at a forum in Pittsburgh to discuss how trade policy can be transformed to lift up workers and communities, while protecting the environment. The forum was held at the United Steelworkers (USW) headquarters and featured a panel of labor and environmental leaders focused on making sure that a renegotiation deal would be a fair one for America’s workers and the environment.

“Renegotiation can not just be a rewrite of the of the TPP,” said Senator Casey. “I hope Republicans take renegotiation as seriously as we are. For me, this has always been about getting the best deal for American workers. This requires strong buy America standards as well as strong labor and wage standards for Mexico.”

“As renegotiations on NAFTA begin, we need to make sure that the interest of workers are front and center,” said United Steelworkers International President Leo W. Gerard. “The measure of success of any deal will be the number of good jobs that are created and maintained.”

“As we continue to encourage sustainable communities throughout Pittsburgh, we will need to make sure that trade agreements foster that type of development and innovation in cities and states nationwide,” said Josiah Gilliam, Special Assistant to the CEO, Web + Digital Communications Manager, Homewood Children’s Village and Program Manager, My Brother’s Keeper.

“Thousands of Pennsylvania workers watched helplessly as NAFTA led to the outsourcing of middle-class jobs,” said BlueGreen Alliance Policy Advisor LaVita Tuff. “Americans, Pennsylvanians, and working people everywhere need fair trade deals that put workers and the environment first and that don’t put corporate interests above our health, our rights, and our safety,”

“What Pennsylvania—and this nation—needs is a trade deal that promotes job creation while also protecting the environment,” said Pennsylvania Director of the Sierra Club, Joanne Kilgour. “We need to make sure that the NAFTA replacement supports healthy communities, clean air and water, and a more stable climate for the sake of workers and families.”

In May, the Trump administration sent notice to Congress that it intended to renegotiate NAFTA, and trade has been a particularly important issue for Pennsylvania.

“We know that it is possible to have trade agreements that don’t engage the U.S. in a race to the bottom, but instead lift up workers throughout the world,” said BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director Kim Glas. “We applaud Senator Casey’s work on this issue that is so vital to the future of Pennsylvania’s economy and workers.”

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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. Visit www.bluegreenalliance.org or follow us on Twitter @bgalliance.

BlueGreen Alliance Releases Trade Policy Statement: The Road to Fair Trade Deals

With NAFTA Renegotiation Expected to Begin this Week, BGA Finds an Opportunity to Change America’s Trade Policy for Workers and the Environment

WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 15, 2017) With official talks expected to start later this week on the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the BlueGreen Alliance—a national partnership of labor unions and environmental organizations—today released its trade policy statement, The Road to Fair Trade Deals, which lays out recommendations for a new approach to trade deals that supports good union jobs, livable wages, healthy communities, clean air and water, and a more stable climate.

“NAFTA was a failed promise for too many workers and communities with the loss of jobs and increased pollution,” said BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director, Kim Glas. “We have an opportunity now to change this nation’s approach to trade and focus on a deal that will create and maintain good jobs and protect our environment. Anything short of this will simply be another failure.”

The policy lays out six principles for NAFTA renegotiations, including: establishing a transparent and inclusive process; eliminating corporate tribunals that incentivize offshoring and undermine environmental protections; including strong and binding labor and environmental protections; creating a stronger, independent enforcement mechanism; protecting and promoting Buy American and green procurement policies; and strengthening rules of origin.

“For decades, people and organizations from across the country have been demanding trade deals that put our communities and our climate first, not multinational corporations’ profits,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. “NAFTA renegotiation—and any new trade deals—must prioritize the rights of workers, the health of our communities, and our clean air and water. These are priorities that this plan will put well before corporate profits, and any deal that falls short of these widely-shared priorities will face the same opposition that defeated the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”

“We need to make sure that the NAFTA renegotiation leads to good jobs in all three countries,” said United Steelworkers (USW) International President, Leo W. Gerard. “NAFTA needs to protect labor rights and raise wages and improve benefits for all workers.”

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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. Visit www.bluegreenalliance.org or follow us on Twitter @bgalliance.

The Road to Fair Trade Deals: NAFTA Renegotiation Is An Opportunity to Change America’s Trade Approach

The North American Free Trade Agreement, also known as NAFTA, has been in effect since 1994. The administration has announced plans for its renegotiation, but without much detail.

For far too many, NAFTA has meant the loss of good, quality paying jobs and increased pollution, as the deal has exacerbated offshoring and profiteering off the backs of workers and the environment.

It’s time for a trade agreement that levels the playing field and makes deep reforms to strengthen workers’ rights and environmental standards. Anything short of that is a failed trade agreement. NAFTA’s replacement must support good union jobs, livable wages, healthy communities, clean air and water, and a more stable climate.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, Ohio Leaders Discuss Transforming America’s Trade Policy 

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (right) answers a question from audience at event in Cleveland on fair trade.

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (right) answers a question from audience at event in Cleveland on fair trade.

CLEVELAND (June 5, 2017) – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown today joined a diverse group of labor, environmental justice and civic activists at a forum to discuss how we can transform trade policy to lift up workers and communities, while protecting the environment. The forum was held at the United Steelworkers (USW) Local 979 hall and featured a panel of labor and environmental leaders focused on making sure that if the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is renegotiated that the deal would be a fair one for America’s workers and the environment.

“We know exactly what causes outsourcing: low wages, exploited workers and weak, or non-existent, environmental protections in other countries,” said Brown, who has put forward a Four-Point Plan for renegotiating NAFTA. “That’s why the very first point in my plan calls for us to secure strong anti-outsourcing provisions up front—before we even sit down at the negotiating table. American jobs shouldn’t be up for negotiation. We should not move forward with any agreement until Mexico agrees to enforce strict worker and environmental protections. By setting high standards, putting workers ahead of corporations and refusing to compromise on outsourcing, we can create the best possible deal for Ohio workers.”

At the event, Sen. Brown and the panelists answered questions from the moderator and offered their perspective on how America can achieve fair trade deals now and in the future.

“If NAFTA can’t be eliminated and will instead be renegotiated, it should be called the North American FAIR Trade Agreement and implemented as such,” said USW Local 979 President Dan Boone.

“Americans, Ohioans, and working people everywhere need a fair trade deal that puts workers and the environment first and doesn’t put corporate interests above our health, our rights, and our safety,” said Amy Hanauer, the moderator of the event and founding executive director of Policy Matters Ohio.

In May, the Trump administration sent notice to Congress that it intended to renegotiate NAFTA and trade has been a particularly important issue for Ohioans. 

“We know that it is possible to have trade agreements that don’t engage the U.S. in a race to the bottom, but instead lift up our own workers and workers throughout the world,” said BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director Kim Glas. “We applaud Senator Brown’s work on this issue that is so vital to the future of Ohio’s economy and workers.”

Labor, Environmental Leaders Call on Congress to Reject Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

WASHINGTON, DC (November 10, 2015) – Leaders from the BlueGreen Alliance—a national partnership of labor unions and environmental organizations—and their allies today reacted to the final text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which was released late last week. The leaders identified four key areas where the agreement falls short—including the risk to American manufacturing jobs, the Investor-State Dispute System, and labor and environmental standards—and urged Congress to vote “no” on the TPP.

“The TPP undermines our manufacturing sector and, like NAFTA, KORUS and other free trade agreements before, will ship good-paying American jobs overseas,” said Leo W. Gerard, International President of the United Steelworkers. “The TPP would richly reward gigantic multi-national corporations that already have moved or plan to move U.S. factories to low-wage, low-standard TPP countries. This is a bad deal for American workers.”

Gerard pointed to the impact of past trade agreements, including the last ratified agreement completed in 2012 between the U.S. and Korea (KORUS), which caused a net loss of 75,000 jobs, according to the Economic Policy Institute. In the first three years after that agreement took effect, U.S. domestic exports to Korea increased by only $0.8 billion—or 1.8 percent. Imports from Korea increased $12.6 billion, an increase of 22.5 percent.

The leaders also highlighted the TPP’s flawed Investor-State Dispute System (ISDS), which could allow an unelected tribunal to veto America’s environmental and labor laws at the behest of corporations. The system also allows companies to be compensated for damages.

“Corporations have been using the dangerous investor-state dispute settlement process to attack common-sense air, water, and climate protections for years. The TPP would only make a bad situation worse, expanding this system to thousands of new corporations for the first time ever,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. “The TPP is a toxic deal for American families. We can’t afford to trade away our ability to protect workers and communities, our environment, and our climate. This corporate giveaway is just another reason why Congress should reject the TPP.”

“Even a cursory review demonstrates how the Trans-Pacific Partnership fails working families. It forces the U.S. to compete with countries with low-wage workers. It’s a deal negotiated by and for the 1 percent, and our broad coalition will continue to oppose it,” said Communications Workers of America (CWA) President Chris Shelton.

Celeste Drake, Trade Policy Specialist for the AFL-CIO, raised concerns about how the agreement will impact the rights of working people.

“The TPP is a corporate rights agreement that threatens good jobs and wages in the U.S. while allowing worker abuses abroad to continue unabated,” said AFL-CIO Trade Policy Specialist Celeste Drake. “Instead of incorporating new mechanisms to create a race to the top for workers and the environment, it repeats the special interest giveaways we’ve seen in past agreements.”

In terms of environmental protections, the groups said that the agreement may not force countries to live up to obligations on key international agreements or to stop illegal and unsustainable activities that are destroying the ocean, wildlife, and forests.

“This trade agreement would allow foreign corporations to challenge our health, safety and environmental protections in a foreign tribunal outside our legal system, and it would weaken those bedrock safeguards in the United States. While there are some positive conservation measures, the agreement’s substantial shortcomings should lead Congress to reject it,” said Jake Schmidt, International Program Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Listen to the call below.

BlueGreen Alliance Letter to the U.S. International Trade Commission

The BlueGreen Alliance and its 15 labor and environmental partners recognize the importance of fair trade to the proper functioning of the global economy and to meeting the needs of global businesses, workers, and consumers. America’s economy depends in large part on our ability to export domestically manufactured goods to markets around the world. However, we are also deeply concerned about the potential economic and environmental impacts of international trade agreements currently being discussed and negotiated, including the Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA), which is the subject of this investigation.

Too often, international trade has enabled a global race to the bottom for workers and the erosion of environmental protections. Instead of free trade, which simply removes as many tariff and non-tariff barriers as possible, the United States should be negotiating “fair trade” agreements that improve  quality of life and raise standards protecting workers, consumers, and the environment.

In the context of the current EGA negotiations, the U.S. Trade Representative has sought to expand the list of environmental goods identified by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. However, while some of the goods identified to date are arguably beneficial to the environment, the list has grown to increasingly include a host of goods for which the connection to environmental benefit is at best tangential and, at worst, actively detrimental to the environment.

Trans-Pacific Partnership Represents Missed Opportunity

WASHINGTON, DC (October 5, 2015) – Following years of closed-door negotiations, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) today announced an agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The BlueGreen Alliance released the following statement from Executive Director Kim Glas:

“Today’s announcement marks a significant missed opportunity. While the American people have not been allowed to read the agreement itself, indications are that it will fail in its attempts to uphold high labor, environmental, and human rights standards. Any trade agreement must ensure the protection of our environment and the creation and maintenance of quality jobs in the United States.

“If history is our guide, too often trade agreements threaten environmental sustainability, limit rights for workers, and undermine America’s fragile manufacturing and tradable service sectors. Based on leaked reports—the deal falls woefully short. It’s time for USTR to release the text so the American people can read the details in the light of day.”

Fast Track Approval is a Step Backward

WASHINGTON, DC (June 18, 2015) – Today the U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve Fast Track trade authority. After the bill passed with a vote of 218-208 BlueGreen Alliance’s Executive Director Kim Glas issued the following statement:

“Passage of this trade legislation in the House today is a step backward for our country. These measures undercut fundamental values we’ve fought long and hard to protect and virtually ensure that future trade deals will send jobs overseas and erode our environmental and health protections. We’re deeply disappointed with the members who chose politics and special interests ahead of what’s best for working families, America’s economic future and our environment. We now call upon the Senate to stand firm in rejecting this measure.”