Union Members, Environmentalists Stand Together to Fight for Good Jobs, Clean Environment
MINNEAPOLIS, MN (February 18, 2011) Labor and environmental leaders from the BlueGreen Alliance today came together to decry the continuing efforts to dismantle unions through a barrage of legislative proposals designed to weaken collective bargaining and on-the-job protections. Environmental leaders in particular recognized the importance of negotiating safer, healthier workplaces and connected this fight with attacks on the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate pollution under the Clean Air Act.
“These attacks on workers, the attacks on the EPA’s ability to protect our land, water, air and health – they are all coming from the same place: corporations and their political allies,” said Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. “We can’t stand down now. We have to fight together as union members and environmentalists to protect our rights, to protect our families and to protect our environment. These rights are fundamental to our democracy.”
“We can’t move forward as a country by throwing working people out on the street and we can’t ignore the economic and environmental impacts of unchecked greenhouse gas emissions. But by putting people to work confronting these problems, there is enormous opportunity for economic growth,” said Leo W. Gerard, International President of the International Steelworkers. “What is happening in Wisconsin, Ohio, New Hampshire and elsewhere, is a veiled attack by industry to stop the things that will create jobs and protect workers. Working people have to take power back, and we stand with environmentalists for what we believe in – good jobs and a clean environment.”
“Investments in the green economy create jobs, and well-crafted regulations to reduce greenhouse gases have the potential to grow our economy and put America on the fast track in the 21st century economy,” said Peter Lehner, Executive Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “But instead of helping to move our economy forward, the actions of corporate interests – who profit from our combined defeat – are taking us backwards. We stand with working people today to protect workers’ rights and to protect the environment for the next generation.”
“Right to Work” legislation has been introduced, or is expected to be introduced, in more than a dozen states – including Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Michigan, Missouri and Minnesota – which would weaken unions and make it more difficult to negotiate important occupational and environmental protections. Meanwhile, instead of working with the EPA, corporate interests and their allies in Washington are fighting efforts by the Agency to regulate and reduce toxic emissions such as mercury and arsenic, seeking to defund the Agency, and to repeal its authority to start regulating carbon pollution.
“This is a reckless attempt to roll back much of the 20th Century progress that has benefited so many working Americans,” said Kevin Knobloch, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Corporate interests and their advocates in governor’s offices and Congress are waging a mean-spirited attack on workers’ hard-won rights and environmental, human health and workplace safeguards. Today, we stand side by side with our union brothers and sisters and will fight to ensure a safe, healthy and prosperous future for all Americans, not just the top two percent.”
“The labor movement is proud to stand with environmentalists and fight back aainst a sustained attack on working and middle class families and on the environment, all in the name of corporate greed,” said Larry Cohen, President of the Communications Workers of America. “Alone, we can’t succeed, but together we can fight back and win, restoring quality jobs and sustainable communities.”
“Whether it’s fighting to stop unrelenting attacks on union members or fighting attacks to weaken the EPA, labor and the environment are united in moving our country forward with good jobs and are committed to protecting the environment for the next generation,” said David Foster, Executive Director of the BlueGreen Alliance.