Get Active for Good Union Jobs in a Renewable Energy Economy

May 30, 2019

Statement of the UE General Executive Board

Ninety-seven percent of peer-reviewed science says our use of fossil fuels contributes significantly to greenhouse gases and climate change, which is taking an increasing toll on our economy, our homes, our health and our lives.

The question confronting working people and our unions is not whether our nation transforms our manufacturing, transportation, production, and distribution from fossil fuels to renewables, but when and, more importantly, how we take control of the situation to ensure that the transition is done in ways that benefit workers and our communities rather than corporations and the wealthy.

This move to renewables must be centered on the needs of workers and must be fair. Workers do not cause these crises and those workers and families affected by the change should be guaranteed equivalent compensation, benefits, and jobs and a workplace where the right to organize unions is free from any employer interference.

This is also an opportunity to finally provide a measure of justice for workers and communities who have historically been exploited, marginalized, or neglected by corporations and our government, including communities of color and front-line communities who have borne the brunt of fossil-fuel corporate greed. We must ensure that these workers and communities reap the benefits of a fair transition providing good family sustaining union jobs.

Moving our nation away from fossil fuels will not happen overnight, nor in isolation from other changes to our economy and we must not delay. In the middle of the last century, our democracy quickly retooled the productive capacity of our nation to meet the existential threat of Nazism and changed the face of US manufacturing forever. The threat posed by climate change demands a similar response to provide a sustainable environment and economy for future generations. The UN Intergovernmental Policy on Climate Change, the Paris Accords, and the Green New Deal resolution in Congress provide us with tools and frameworks for this future that embrace more robust public power and municipal initiatives. It is the innovation and creative productive capacity of our communities which must drive this movement.

The UE General Executive Board encourages UE members and locals to participate fully in discussions about the challenge of climate change and the eventual replacement of fossil fuels by renewable energy, and participate in the movements and organizations proposing solutions. We have an incredible opportunity to transform our society to a more worker-supportive and community-controlled economy and nation. We must not waste this opportunity.