On 13-14 March, the American Steelworkers union and environmental organisation Sierra Club are organising a ‘Good jobs, green jobs’ conference.
Traditionally, unions have been hesitant to endorse environmental protection, fearing this would hurt the economy and destroy jobs. However, there is growing support for the idea that environmental measures might in fact lead to the creation of more green jobs.
Some American unions support substantial greenhouse cuts, such as the Steelworkers and the Service Employees International Union. Others oppose them, such as the Mineworkers and the United Auto Workers.
In a series of articles on the issue, the Global Labour Strategies (GLS) website predicts that climate change may well become an important issue in the upcoming presidential election.
GLS argues that support from organised labour is crucial for efforts to deal with climate change. Unions also have something to gain, for the environment is becoming a ‘huge issue’ for students, providing “a crucial opportunity for labour to rebuild its bridges to young people locally around a vital concern”.
Not just American unions are dealing with the issue, GLS says. Australian unions helped raise the issue of global warming in last year’s national election, helping the Labour Party defeat the Conservatives. And a coalition of Dutch unions and environmental organisations worked with a research institute to develop a plan to reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2030.