By Sean Sweeney and John Treat
The concept of “Just Transition” has become increasingly in vogue in recent years in international political circles. While commonly ascribed to be “transformative” in potential, like any fashionable term it runs the risk of being emptied of content and coopted by arbiters of the status quo. So what really is Just Transition, and why is it potentially so transformative? This is the question the authors set out to answer in this eleventh working paper published under the auspices of our Trade Unions for Energy Democracy (TUED) project.
In one of its most thorough treatments to date, Sean Sweeney and John Treat, both of the Murphy Institute, not only define the concept of Just Transition but take us through its history and the various polemics that surround it. Starting with its roots in the U.S. labor movement, the authors trace the development of the concept, from being one focused almost exclusively on workers impacted by environmental policies, to becoming much broader in its call for socioecological transformation at the point of not only consumption but also production. Continue reading TRADE UNIONS AND JUST TRANSITION: TUED WORKING PAPER #11
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
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
By Eduardo Rosario
What is the history of the coalition between the labor movement and the environmental justice movement? To answer that question, I looked at labor’s activities on environmental issues in three time periods: 1948 to 1972, 1973 to the 1990s, and the 1990s to the present.
The labor movement took the lead on many environmental concerns between 1948 and 1972, because of the space labor occupied and the resources it mustered. Labor led the charge on such environmental concerns because the environmental justice movement was far smaller and did not command the level of resources labor possessed. With the relative economic prosperity of this time period U.S. labor was able to be inclusive of broader social justice issues such as the environment.
In the second period after 1973, facing massive job losses, labor shifted its priorities away from broader social concerns like the environment and began to take a more concessionary posture in collective bargaining. Economic pressures made union and non-union members alike feel vulnerable, and corporate America seized the opportunity.
Continue reading US Labor Combating Environmental Injustices: Organizing Locally and Globally