Labor, Environmental Leaders Release Historic “Solidarity for Climate Action” Platform

Groups Say Platform Will Create Good-Paying Jobs, Address Income Inequality and the Climate Crisis

June 24, 2019

Leaders from the BlueGreen Alliance today released their platform to create good-paying jobs and fight income inequality by addressing the climate crisis at the headquarters of the United Steelworkers (USW) in Pittsburgh. The historic platform—entitled Solidarity for Climate Action—would put workers at the forefront of the ongoing discussion about how America will tackle climate change. It is the first such comprehensive plan to address climate change put forward by America’s largest unions.

“This historic moment in labor and environmental cooperation is the culmination of more than a decade of work,” said Leo W. Gerard, International President of the United Steelworkers (USW). “The platform we are unveiling today is a roadmap to address both the climate crisis and growing income inequality in a way that leaves no workers or communities behind. The USW is proud to be a part of this effort, and I urge leaders at every level of government to help us make this plan a reality.”

“The only way we can tackle the climate crisis is with a broad coalition working to build and grow the clean energy economy that works for every community,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. “The Sierra Club is proud to be a founding member of the BlueGreen Alliance and prouder still to support this platform to tackle the dual crises of climate change and inequality while creating new family-sustaining careers across the country.”

“We will not allow any worker or frontline community to be left behind as we build an economy with net-zero emissions—and this historic platform charts the path forward. The National Wildlife Federation is proud to stand with the BlueGreen Alliance, America’s workers, and our fellow conservation organizations to demonstrate that smart climate action supports both family-sustaining jobs and healthy natural resources,” said Collin O’Mara, President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “We will work with our allies to transform this powerful platform into action across the country.”

“Our new climate platform demonstrates that the labor and environmental movements are unified, committed and energized to fight the growing dangers, and costs, from climate change. Together we can ensure that cutting climate pollution, rebuilding our infrastructure, making our communities resilient and transitioning to a clean energy economy will provide better jobs and lives for hard working families, while safeguarding everyone against the worst impacts of climate change,” said Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, Director of Programs at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The “Solidarity for Climate Action” platform addresses the dual crises of climate change and income inequality in a number of ways, including calling for rapid reductions of greenhouse gas emissions to put America on a pathway of reducing its emissions to net zero by 2050 and massive immediate investments in clean and renewable technology and energy efficiency across all sectors; efforts to increase union density across the country through strong support of the right to organize throughout the economy, including in the clean technology sectors; and rebuilding and modernizing America’s infrastructure and making our communities more resilient.

“As we look to America’s energy future, we must spend as much time planning for how current energy sector workers will navigate this shift as we do implementing policies that will address climate change,” said D. Michael Langford, President of the Utility Workers Union of America. “With the right approach, we can take significant steps that put America on the path to net zero emissions, while creating high-quality jobs that bolster the middle class. We look forward to working with state and federal lawmakers, communities, and other stakeholders to bring this vision of an inclusive, solutions-based approach to life.”

The platform also focuses on revitalizing and expanding the public sector workforce, ensuring staffing levels are sufficient to accomplish clean energy, resilience, adaptation, and crisis response objectives; building a national strategy to lead in clean and emerging technology production and supply chain development, including major investments in domestic manufacturing and innovation, penalizing offshoring, and a commitment to at least doubling funding of clean technology research, development, manufacturing, and deployment; and ensuring effective and equitable access to high-quality employment, training, and advancement for workers from low-income households, those historically under-represented on the basis of race, gender, and other criteria, and those adversely impacted or dislocated by technological change.

“The BlueGreen Alliance platform is a framework for urgent action with the specific recommendations needed to address climate change while ensuring the clean energy economy supports good union jobs,” said Service Employees International Union (SEIU) International President Mary Kay Henry. “SEIU members—whose homes have been destroyed by wildfires or floods, and who treat children whose asthma has been exacerbated by dirty air—support immediate, bold action on climate change.”

“We have the technologies and strategies that we need to transform the economy in a way that benefits American workers, communities, and the environment we all depend on,” said Kathleen Rest, Executive Director of the Union of Concerned Scientists. “But it will take real leadership from the White House and Congress to get the job done. UCS is committed to working with our BlueGreen Alliance partners and other allies to build support all across the country for this bold action plan.”

Finally, the groups said “Solidarity for Climate Action” features bold plans to guarantee pensions and to supply a bridge of wage support, healthcare, and retirement security until an impacted worker either finds new employment or reaches retirement. It also seeks trade agreements that are enforceable, fair for all workers, and benefit the environment—including the climate—and requirements for fair and safe working conditions throughout global supply chains.

“This bold plan of action addresses the climate crisis while creating and protecting good-paying jobs across the country,” said Elizabeth Gore, the Environmental Defense Action Fund’s Senior Vice President of Political Affairs. “Innovative technology combined with ambitious policy can improve opportunities for workers while dramatically cutting climate pollution and making our air cleaner.  This landmark effort was years in the making and it provides a blueprint to tackle some of the most pressing challenges that we face.”

“‘Solidarity for Climate Action’ lays out a powerful and achievable platform to address the twin crises of economic and social inequality and climate change,” said League of Conservation Voters (LCV) President Gene Karpinski. “Working families must be at the center of the rapid transformation our society needs to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, the reductions scientists tell us we must reach to tackle the climate crisis. LCV is proud to be part of this historic collaboration between labor and environmental leaders and encourage policy makers to work with us to turn this roadmap for a more fair and cleaner society into a reality.”

“To build a better future for all Americans we have to have a plan to fight climate change that works for everyone and this is it,” said Mike Williams, Interim Co-Executive Director of the BlueGreen Alliance. “This isn’t going to be easy, but it is necessary to secure the future of our nation and planet. We urge leaders from across the country to embrace this platform and we look forward to working with them to build a stronger, fairer, cleaner economy that works for all Americans.”

To download platform click the button below. A video of the Pittsburgh event is available at https://www.bluegreenalliance.org/work-issue/solidarity-for-climate-action/.