Category Archives: International Program for Labor, Climate and Environment

New Labor Forum Highlights: June 13th, 2016

The New Labor Forum has launched a bi-weekly newsletter on current topics in labor, curated by the some of the most insightful scholars and activists in the labor world today. Check out some highlights from the latest edition below.

As of this writing, the the Presidential Primary season is in effect over; we know that Hillary Clinton will be the nominee and that she will face Donald Trump in the general. But the fascination with the Bernie Sanders campaign continues, as detailed by Bob Master, Political Director for Region 1 of the Communication Workers of America, writing about the lessons the labor movement can learn.

To discuss the future prospects of the movement inspired by the Sanders campaign, thousands of unionists and progressives will gather in Chicago this weekend at The People’s Summit. The Murphy Institute’s Sean Sweeney will be speaking on energy democracy and climate justice, and New Labor Forum’s Charles Lenchner will be moderating a panel on the future of democratic socialism.

Other progressives, most notably Senator Elizabeth Warren, are now attempting to make the case for Hillary Clinton to Sanders supporters. We include here such an argument by The Nation’s David Cole in defense of Clinton’s incrementalism.

Finally, Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times offers a detailed analysis of what Sanders hopes to achieve by staying in the race.


  1. Bernie Sanders, Labor, Ideology and the Future of American Politics by Bob Master
  2. The People’s Summit by Charles Lenchner
  3. The Progressive Case for Hillary Clinton’s Incrementalism by David Cole
  4. Isn’t the Primary Over? Why Bernie Sanders Won’t Quit, by Nicholas Confessore

Photo by Gage Skidmore via flickr (CC-BY-SA)

Labor and Climate Change: What Comes Next?

For a while, it looked like we’d have to choose: labor or climate; jobs or the planet. But with unions like the CWA increasingly calling for action on climate change, some of these once-divergent interests appear to be coming into alignment. As Samantha Page wrote in an article in ThinkProgress last week:

The Climate and Community Protection Act passed the Democrat-led Assembly this week and is now at the Republican-controlled State Senate. NY Renew, a coalition which brought together labor, climate, and social justice groups, helped pass the measure. The bill sets a goal of 50 percent renewable electricity generation by 2030 and focuses on clean energy job creation, particularly in disadvantaged communities.

While unions have traditionally fought for workplace and economic improvements, climate change represents a serious threat to everyone, including union members, [CWA Political and Legislative Director Pete] Sikora said, so an alliance with green groups makes sense. Continue reading Labor and Climate Change: What Comes Next?

New Labor Forum Highlights: May 31st, 2016

The New Labor Forum has launched a bi-weekly newsletter on current topics in labor, curated by the some of the most insightful scholars and activists in the labor world today. Check out some highlights from the latest edition below.

In this week’s newsletter, we begin by taking a closer look at workers in the energy industries. New Labor Forum columnist Sean Sweeney examines the deep environmental rift in the U.S. labor movement, with the building trades promoting continued coal, oil, and gas extraction and transport workers, nurses, service employees, and a growing number of other unions pushing to end our dependence on fossil fuels. However, Sweeney points to signs that many members and leaders in the Trades appear uncomfortable playing the role of attack dog for fossil fuel interests. Although not imminent, a realignment for  “energy democracy” and environmental sustainability may be possible.

Environmental activists and labor leaders around the globe will be keeping a close eye on  Canada’s New Democratic Party (NDP) after its recent convention resulted in the introduction of the Leap Manifesto and its “ambitious vision for a nobody’s-backyard approach on pipelines.” We’ve gathered a few articles and perspectives for you to learn more about what’s brewing in Alberta, home to the Tar Sands and location of the NDP convention.


  1. Contested Futures: Labor After Keystone XL by Sean Sweeney
  2. The Leap Manifesto 
  3. VIDEO: Avi Lewis talks about The Leap Manifesto
  4. The Leap Manifesto, and where the NDP will land by Jason Markusoff, (MacLean’s)

Photo by kris krüg via flickr (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Congress of Unions in São Paulo Urges Governments to Stop Fracking

With Dilma’s impeachment imminent, unions unite against “coups and corruption.”

TUCA-CSA 3rd Congress, São Paulo, April 28th, 2016

More than 500 delegates representing unions in the Americas today adopted a ‘base document’ that included a call for governments in the hemisphere to issue a moratorium on fracking. Via the TUED-initiated Unions Against Fracking, five trade union centers in the Americas had earlier supported the call for a moratorium, namely CTA Argentina, CSN Quebec, the Canadian Labour Congress, CUT Brazil, and CUT Peru. A growing number of individual unions are also on board. The TUCA-CSA Congress document also declared, “We fight against the extractive model imposed by the business logic of large oil production and mining transnational corporations that do not foster development.”

Convened once every four years, the 3rd Congress of the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas is meeting at a time when unions in Brazil and across the region believe that a coup against president Dilma Rousseff is imminent. A right-wing government replacing the governing Workers Party is expected to push forward with an aggressive privatization agenda and a full-force attack on collective bargaining. Continue reading Congress of Unions in São Paulo Urges Governments to Stop Fracking

Bangladesh Police Open Fire on Protest Against Coal Power Plants

By Michael O’Neil, for Trade Unions for Energy Democracy

In the Chittagong district of Bangladesh, thousands of villagers held what they described as a peaceful protest over multiple days at the construction site of twin coal-fired power plants. The plants, costing $2.4 billion, are backed by Chinese companies and the project had just commenced leveling farmland to prepare for construction.

Police opened fire on the villagers on Monday, claiming the protesters had injured 11 officers. Four protesters were killed, with dozens more wounded. According to the district Police Chief, charges have been filed against 3,200 protesters although, incredibly, only 57 individuals have actually been named in the cases.

According to Agence France-Presse, protesters are concerned that the mass case filed by the police:

“…could give authorities extra powers to harass or detain anyone protesting against the project.

‘Police will now use their power indiscriminately against any villager who speaks against the plants,’ a schoolteacher who lives in the village told AFP by phone on condition of anonymity.”

Today, “hundreds of villagers” regrouped at the construction site to demand justice for the four killed on Monday, and relatives of two victims have filed cases against the police.

Photo by DFID via flickr (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Facing up to the Failure of Carbon Markets: TUED Working Paper #6

Carbon Markets After Paris: Trading in Trouble

By Sean Sweeney, Coordinator of Trade Unions for Energy Democracy

The 2015 Paris Climate Agreement and the “intended nationally determined contributions” submitted to the UNFCCC enshrines carbon markets and emissions trading schemes (ETSs) as a key mechanism for reducing emissions. But are carbon markets effective?

Since the early 1990s, “putting a price on carbon” has been, perhaps, the primary policy proposal for reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). Proponents see it as a way to gently guide investment away from high carbon sectors and practices toward low carbon ones, thus removing the need for more decisive government interventions. ETSs, in particular, have been favored by businesses and neoliberal policy makers seeking to limit emissions without unduly disrupting business-as-usual and economic growth.

The Lost Decade

In the TUED Working Paper Carbon Markets After Paris: Trading in Trouble, I examined recent reports released by the World Bank and Nicholas Stern’s Global Commission on the Economy and Climate. These reports hail the decade-long progress made by carbon pricing and ETSs in particular–which has “tripled” the proportion of the world’s carbon emissions that now involve polluters paying for the global warming pollution they generate. These reports are intended to convince policy makers and investors that all is more or less going according to plan. Continue reading Facing up to the Failure of Carbon Markets: TUED Working Paper #6