The Labor Studies Program invites all union members, activists, and CUNY & non‐CUNY graduate-level students to enroll in our special topics graduate class:
CLIMATE CRISIS AND THE LABOR MOVEMENT:
Trade Unions and Social Movement Approaches to Climate Change and Ecological Degradation
Taught by Sean Sweeney
Thursdays, January 28th to May 12th, 2016 @ 6:15-8:45pm
The emergence of alarming scientific data on climate change, pollution and ecological degradation has triggered a rising wave of activism and organizing around environmental issues. The scientific reality has forced labor and other social movements to debate and propose solutions to what amounts to a civilizational crisis.
How can the labor movement and others best respond to this crisis? What does the Paris Agreement mean for both workers and the environment? This class is designed to give students a foundation in the scientific, social, and political aspects of the looming crisis so that they can more effectively engage their unions, movement activism, and scholarship in efforts to protect the environment and our future. Continue reading Graduate Class: Climate Crisis and the Labor Movement
By Elena Mora for Trade Unions for Energy Democracy
A short but well-organized campaign to stop plans to build a coal export terminal in the Oakland Port resulted in a packed Oakland City Council meeting on September 21, and a vote requiring a public health impact study to guide the Council’s action, up to and including a moratorium on coal.
The campaign, “Coal Free Oakland,” led by the Sierra Club and others, brought together a very broad coalition (more than 80 organizations), with significant union participation, including the Alameda Labor Council, which passed a resolution calling on the city to reject the coal export plan. Continue reading Unprecedented? Unions and Community Unite to Halt Plans to Build Coal Export Terminal in Oakland, California
Murphy Institute Professor Sean Sweeney just returned from Athens, where he delivered a presentation entitled Third Memorandum or Grexit: What are the implications for the Future of Greece’s Energy System? at the Democracy Rising conference. In his talk, Sweeney explained:
…[E]nergy will be at the heart of the struggles in Greece in the years ahead, Memorandum or Grexit. Energy poverty has grown with austerity and recession, and Syriza has taken measures to protect the poorest and most vulnerable from, for example, electricity disconnections.
But it is clear that the structure of Greece’s energy system also needs to change. The “Institutions”, through the Memorandum, have a clear sense of what restructuring energy means for them—full-on privatization. However, a left restructuring would seek to address two major challenges: firstly, Greece’s dependence on fossil fuel imports and, secondly, how to take advantage of its potential to generate large amounts of renewable energy.
Sweeney presents a thorough analysis of Greece’s choices given the country’s uncertain future and the real, pressing need for “a new economy and a new society.”
Access the full presentation at Trade Unions for Energy Democracy.
Photo by Martin Abegglen via flickr (CC-BY-SA).
The Labor Studies Program invites all CUNY and non‐CUNY graduate-level students to enroll in our special topics graduate class:
LABOR & ENVIRONMENT: Trade Unions and Social Movement Approaches to Climate Change and Ecological Degradation
Facilitated by Sean Sweeney
Thursdays, Aug. 27th to Dec. 17th, 2015 @ 6:15-8:45pm
The emergence of alarming scientific data on climate change, pollution and ecological degradation has triggered a rising wave of activism and organizing around environmental issues. A growing number of unions in the US and internationally are participating in the struggle to protect the environment – but many unions still view environmental protection as a threat to existing jobs in key sectors. The scientific reality has also forced labor and other social movements to debate and propose solutions to what amounts to a civilizational crisis.
This course will look at how the ecological crisis is expressing itself in the form of climate change and warming temperatures; growing water scarcity, toxic forms of agriculture, and other major challenges. It will look at how unions and movements are responding to the challenges at the level of organizing and policy. A key component of the course will involve looking at ‘big picture’ theoretical questions, including notions of ‘planetary limits’ and the capacity of the capitalist political economy to deliver a truly sustainable society in the coming decades. The course will also examine how social movements are asserting a new narrative based on democracy, transparency and sufficiency.
NOTE: This graduate course is open to all non-degree/non-matriculated students who already hold a Bachelor’s Degree. Current CUNY graduate students should register for the course via E-Permit @ CUNY Portal and pay tuition to their home college. Once a permit is approved and processed the course will appear on the tuition bill and your course schedule will be generated by the home college. For more information about registration and tuition and fees, please contact Irene.Garcia-Mathes@cuny.edu / 212-642-2050
Photo: “People’s Climate March 2014 NYC” via South Bend Voice
Trade Unions for Energy Democracy (TUED) got a plug in the Guardian on Tuesday with a letter from Bert Schouwenburg, International Officer of GMB, the energy union in the UK. The letter was in response to an article by Mark Lynas called We must reclaim the climate change debate from the political extremes.
Had Lynas attended the alternative people’s summit at the COP 20 climate change talks in Lima last year, he would have heard a succession of speakers from Latin America’s indigenous communities rejecting development models imposed on them by transnational capital. They are in the frontline of the fight against climate change and are struggling to stop the destruction of their environment by mining and mono-crop agriculture for export. They would not see themselves in terms of left or right, but fully understand that an economic model based on infinite growth, with the commensurate depletion of the planet’s natural resources, is incompatible with saving the Earth from the catastrophic effects of global warming.
This does not mean sufficient energy cannot be provided for the needs of future generations, but that it must be responsibly sourced and publicly owned instead of being left to market forces and monolithic corporations whose priorities lie in ripping off consumers and making money out of burning fossil fuels. As an energy trade union, we support the necessary, just transition to a low-carbon economy, and are members of the global network Trade Unions for Energy Democracy. As the slogan read in Lima: “Let’s change the system – not the climate.”
Photo by Mike Steinhoff via flickr (CC-BY).
Profit-driven approaches to our energy supply are not working. Emissions continue to rise and our climate is rapidly changing. How can we move toward “energy democracy,” shifting to a more sustainable, equitable energy system? And what’s the role of trade unions in getting us there?
This video from RLS–NYC and Trade Unions for Energy Democracy (TUED) points the way:
Photo by David Blaikie via flickr (CC-BY).