Table of Contents:

  1. Summary
  2. Bottom Line
  3. Fact Sheet
  4. Take Action

Summary:

Rachel Cohen, Contributing Writer of The Intercept, reports that the Green New Deal is being met with resistance from 7 labor unions. Of note is that the vast majority of unions are not opposed and 32BJ Service Employees International Union has strongly stated its support.

While the conversation about how to achieve the goals of a Green New Deal is important, it is concerning that any union would set out to undermine the policy rather than leading the way and helping us to determine how we will achieve these research-based goals and meet the needs of all our workers.

Evan Weber, political director at Sunrise Movement, points out:

“Since the resolution launched, a few [unions] have put out negative and less-than-enthusiastic statements about the Green New Deal, but most are remaining silent and choosing to view this as a potential opportunity.”

SEIU sees the Green New Deal as an opportunity to address economic inequality with union jobs that pay a living wage. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s staff proposes that while some unions might be unsettled by the absence of specific details in the Green New Deal resolution, they might feel more at ease once the details are hammered out. Where details are absent, unions can work with our communities to ensure that the solutions suit their needs and that union members take ownership in helping their workplaces go carbon-free.

The research is clear: A green new deal is an opportunity for the United States to make a historic stand and change the trajectory of our economic and environmental future.

Click here for the original Intercept article.

Bottom Line:

  1. Our Infrastructure, economy, health, and environment are interrelated problems. This is why a Green New Deal is necessary in order to address these issues while carefully considering how one policy affects another.
  2. Evidence shows that community-based clean-energy projects are not only possible, they’re achievable much sooner than imagined. Additionally, these projects provide communities more local control over their solution-oriented decisions. This is why it is critical for unions to work with New Consensus to develop the policies that affect our workers.
  3. Political will plays a large role in being able to achieve the goals set out in a Green New Deal. A government dominated by the fossil fuel industry, as Germany is, ensures that we will follow their example of failing to offset job losses and prevent economic downturn due to poor legislative decisions. This is why we must insist an end to the corrupting influence of money in our politics and that our representatives protect workers and their constituents over bottom line profit.

Goal:

  • To ensure that union members are informed about a green new deal.
  • To encourage all unions to work with the green new deal community, specifically New Consensus, to design the solutions that will be legislative priorities for the health and economic stability of all our communities.

THE FACTS

THE FACTS–

#1: Our Infrastructure, economy, health, and environment are interrelated problems. This is why a Green New Deal is necessary in order to address these issues while carefully considering how one policy affects another.

  • Essential infrastructure systems such as water, energy supply, and transportation will increasingly be compromised by interrelated climate change impacts. Source: globalchange.gov
  • In urban settings, climate-related disruptions of service will almost always result in disruptions in one or more other infrastructure systems. Source: globalchange.gov

These skilled jobs “can provide career ladders for many low-wage workers who struggle to afford the high cost of living.”

32BJ Service Employees International Union (SEIU)

“[This is] an opportunity to tackle economic inequality and re-industrialize America with a green economy.”

32BJ Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
  • In 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy issued a report entitled “Climate Change, and Infrastructure, Urban Systems and Vulnerabilities.” Although much of this study centers around impacts in Boston, Boston is not the only vulnerable region. Here are some key findings:
    • Infrastructures that may be affected by climate change:
      • Energy – more electricity demand, more brownouts
      • Transportation – increased travel time, loss of trips
      • Water – less reliable local supply
  • A 2017 peer-reviewed article in the academic journal Economic Modelling demonstrates how the cost-effectiveness of renewables and energy efficiency would produce a net gain in job growth. The article’s findings conclude that “2.6 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs are created from $1 million spending in fossil fuels, while the same amount of spending would create 7.49 or 7.72 FTE jobs in renewables or energy efficiency.” This is a net gain of 4.89 to 5.12 jobs from renewables or energy efficiency.
  • Conservative officials such as James Baker (Secretary of State to George H.W. Bush), George Schultz (Secretary of State to Ronald Reagan), Hank Paulson (Treasury Secretary to George W. Bush), and Martin Feldstein (Chairman  of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers from 1982 to 1984 under Reagan) argue that a carbon tax, especially coupled with carbon dividends, could actually strengthen the economy and the market.
    • A carbon tax would promote “technological innovation and large-scale substitution of existing energy and transportation infrastructures, thereby stimulating new investment” (p. 2).
    • Carbon dividends (revenue generated from the carbon tax that is returned to consumers) would stimulate the economy by encouraging individuals to spend and invest their new disposable income (p. 2).
    • Baker et al. argue that individuals could put their dividends toward carbon-reducing purchases like electric vehicles (p. 2).
    • The Carbon Tax Center (CTC) cites the Alaska Permanent Fund as a successful example of a tax and dividend program that has positive economic effects. Households receive dividends from royalties earned from oil drilling on Alaska’s North Slope, and “[b]ecause income and energy consumption are strongly correlated, most poorer households will get more back in rebates or tax savings than they pay out in the carbon tax.”
  • In 2018, Washington state saw a record number of wildfires with 1850 blazes. As a result, Washington state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Commissioner, Hillary Franz, has asked the state Legislature to dedicate $55 million to beef up DNR’s funding for the 2019 fire season. It is the most the agency has ever requested to fight fires.
  • In 2017, Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico. Governor Ricardo Rosello submitted a report to Congress with an estimate for the island to make a full recovery. It will cost $139 billion. For context, the annual general budget for Puerto Rico is less than $9 billion. The cost of recovery is more than 15 times the annual general budget.
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) tracks U.S. climate events that have great economic and societal impacts. According to the NCEI in 2017:
    • Since 1980, the U.S. has sustained 219 climate disasters where the overall damage reached or exceeded $1 billion.
    • During 2017, the U.S. experienced a historic year of climate disasters with 16 separate billion dollar disaster events.
    • 2017 tied 2011 for the highest number of billion dollar disaster events in a single year.

#2: Evidence shows that community-based clean-energy projects are not only possible, they’re achievable much sooner than imagined. Additionally, these projects provide communities more local control over their solution-oriented decisions. This is why it is critical for unions to work with New Consensus to develop the policies that affect our workers.

  • New Consensus is a policy institute created by progressive activists and policy experts to develop and promote the Green New Deal. New Consensus has been the catalyst for “a World War Two-Scale mobilization to fix America’s Greatest problems.”

“It’s more important than ever that we come together to reduce greenhouse gasses, switch to renewable energies and create strong, union jobs while ensuring a just transition for impacted workers.”

Kevin Brown, Vice President 32BJ SEIU

The Green Buildings & Climate Jobs New York Programs is an example of how “investing in long-term training and education programs for current employees can help them transition into the green economy and even become leaders in these efforts.”

Hector Figueroa, President of 32BJ SEIUHector Figueroa, Gotham Gazette

“It is possible and deeply impactful when good union jobs are a central tenet of green job initiatives.”

Hector Figueroa, Gotham Gazette
  • Naomi Klein (Canadian author, social activist, and filmmaker) was interviewed by Jon Wiener of The Nation in February 2019 where she addressed a Green New Deal. She cites the success she had in Canada by applying the objectives Leap Manifesto (Canada’s version of the Green New Deal) to the Canadian Postal Service, which was facing downsizing and privatization. This won the support of the postal workers’ union. By tailoring the Green New Deal to the needs of individual workplaces, unions can take ownership in decarbonization.
    • The Leap Manifesto calls for “training and other resources for workers in carbon-intensive jobs, ensuring they are fully able to take part in the clean energy economy.” – The Leap Manifesto
  • The municipal utility in Georgetown, TX became the first in the U.S. to eliminate fossil fuels and generate all of its utility energy from renewable sources in 2015. At Bernie’s town hall on climate change (Dec. 3, 2018), Georgetown mayor Dale Ross reported lower utility bills and positive job prospects in wind and solar (referring to former oil workers who will be able to retire sooner now that they work on wind turbines).
  • Denton, TX will be the second city in the U.S. to run on 100% renewables, working with people who made the switch possible in Georgetown. The city drafted a plan to reach this goal by 2020.
  • According to a 2018 report conducted by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), 10 of the 12 Midwestern states “have more rural clean energy jobs than rural fossil fuel jobs.” These states, such as IN, MI, and OH, traditionally relied on jobs in the fossil fuel industry (p. 3), such natural gas production, coal mining, and the operation of coal-fired power plants.
  • The Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA) in Illinois was signed into law in December 2016 and became effective in June 2017. The law largely relies on solar projects (rooftop, community, and brownfield) for energy production. Communities and individuals can make extra money or get credit on their utility bills by generating surplus energy that will go back to the grid. Low-income families receive incentives and assistance for subscribing to solar programs. The law’s Solar for All initiative projects 2,000 new jobs will be created for “people with records and alumni of the foster care system.”
  • The Carbon Tax Center (CTC) cites the Alaska Permanent Fund as a successful example of a tax and dividend program that has positive economic effects. Households receive dividends from royalties earned from oil drilling on Alaska’s North Slope, and “[b]ecause income and energy consumption are strongly correlated, most poorer households will get more back in rebates or tax savings than they pay out in the carbon tax.”
  • In February 2018, data from the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) “showed 43 cities worldwide were already entirely powered by clean energy.” Thirty of these cities are in Latin America, where hydropower is abundant.
  • In 2017, Costa Rica generated 100% of its utility power from renewable sources for 360 days out of the year. Last May, new president Carlos Alvarado announced plans to completely eliminate fossil fuels from utilities and transportation by 2021.
  • In Germany, jobs in power “accounts for 160,000 jobs, [which is] about eight times more employees than in the country’s coal industry.” This is despite the abundance of German coal reserves and the use of it in power generation where wind power falls short.
  • A study by the International Trade Union Confederation states that “investments of 2% of GDP in the green economy over each of the next 5 years in 12 countries could create up to 48 million new jobs,” including in the U.S.

#3: Political will plays a large role in being able to achieve the goals set out in a Green New Deal. A government dominated by the fossil fuel industry, as Germany is, ensures that we will follow their example of failing to offset job losses and prevent economic downturn due to poor legislative decisions. This is why we must insist an end to the corrupting influence of money in our politics and that our representatives protect workers and their constituents over bottom line profit.

“A small group of unions with close ties to the fossil fuel industry appear to be setting the definition of what the millions and millions of union members in America want and need.”

Jeremey Brecher, historian
  • According to a Yale run study, 81% of registered voters support the Green New Deal, with only 18% opposing it. This includes 92% of Democrats, 88% of Independents, and 64% of Republicans who support the resolution.
  • A study by Data for Progress shows that a majority of Americans (55%) also support strengthening of environmental policies including “strengthening enforcement of the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act (57%), raising fuel efficiency standards (74%), setting a renewable electricity mandate (64%), and allowing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate carbon dioxide (71%).
  • The 2017 tax bill eliminated tax credits for geothermal energy and made tax credits for solar and wind more complicated for homeowners to claim.
  • Naomi Klein (Canadian author, social activist, and filmmaker) was interviewed by Jon Wiener of The Nation in February 2019 where she addressed a Green New Deal. She speaks highly of the inclusion of social justice in the GND to ensure that the poor and the working class avoid economic burdens in the transition to a green economy. As a real-world example of climate legislation without social justice, she points to the Gilets Jaunes movement in France (working class people rising up against President Emanuel Macron’s government after –among other anti-working-class measures–its passage of an economically crippling fuel tax).
  • Germany’s struggles to meet its goal of “reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels” is in part due to Germany’s continued burning of coal and diesel fuel . By November 2018, German leaders admitted they would not meet the 40-percent goal, adjusting its projections to “32 percent at best.”
    • Germany’s shortfall in meeting its 2020 greenhouse gas reduction is due in part to its continued burning of coal. Lignite, “a carbon-heavy [form of coal],” is mined in Germany’s southern regions.
    • The German government has also been reluctant to address increased emissions from transportation and the building sector. While cities across Europe have considered banning diesel-powered vehicles (causing a reduction in vehicle sales), Germany has not followed suit. Experts also cite the country’s failure to transition from diesel vehicles to electric ones.

TAKE ACTION

SUGGESTED HASHTAGS

  • #TYTArmy
  • #GreenNewDeal
  • #ClimateChange
  • #Misinformation
  • #MediaBias
  • #Progressives
  • #Propaganda
  • #PeopleOverProfit
  • #PeopleOverPolitics
  • #GND
  • #OffAct
  • #PolicyOverPolitics
  • #EstablishmentBias

TWITTER HANDLES TO INCLUDE

FACEBOOK ACCOUNTS TO INCLUDE

INSTAGRAM ACCOUNTS TO INCLUDE

EMAIL CONTACTS

  • rmc031@gmail.com – Rachel M Cohen, author
  • webmaster@ibew.org -International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
  • http://umwa.org/contact-us/ United Mine Workers of America
  • tbrown@boilermakers.orgInternational Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers
  • iwmagazine@iwintl.org -International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers
  • info@smart-union.org International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers
  • http://www.ua.org/contact United Association: Union of Plumbers, Fitters, Welders, and Service Techs
  • http://www.seiu.org/about/#contact –
  • Service Employees International Union
  • info@newconsensus.com – New Consensus
  • https://ocasio-cortez.house.gov/contac Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, sponsor of GND
  • https://www.markey.senate.gov/contact Sen. Ed Markey, sponsor of GND
  • https://www.sunrisemovement.org/contact Sunrise Movement
  • TulsiOffice@mail.house.gov Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, sponsor of OFF Act
  • https://raskin.house.gov/contact Sen. Jamie Raskin, sponsor of OFF Act
  • https://lieu.house.gov/contact/email Sen. Ted Lieu, Sponsor of OFF Act
  • https://barragan.house.gov/contact/ Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragan, Sponsor of OFF Act
  • info@fwwatch.org Food and Water Watch
  • www.schumer.senate.gov/contact/email-chuck Sen. Chuck Schumer
  • https://www.mcconnell.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contactform Sen. Mitch McConnell
  • https://www.speaker.gov/contact/ Speaker Nancy Pelosi
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