BGA Plan Announces Plan to Reduce Economic Inequality and Climate Change

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

United Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo W. Gerard and allies from the BlueGreen Alliance (BGA) this week introduced Solidarity for Climate Action, a comprehensive plan to simultaneously tackle economic inequality and climate change.

“To build a better future for all Americans, we have to have a plan to fight climate change that works for everyone, and this is it. This isn’t going to be easy, but it is necessary to secure the future of our nation and planet,” Mike Williams, BGA Interim Co-Executive Director, said at a press conference Monday at the USW International Headquarters in Pittsburgh. “We urge leaders from across the country to embrace this platform, and we look forward to working with them to build a stronger, fairer, cleaner economy that works for all Americans.”

BGA unites America’s largest labor unions and its most influential environmental organizations to address climate change while creating high-quality jobs and a strong and balanced economy.

“It is critical that working people are front and center as we create a new economy: one that values our work, our families, our communities, and our environment,” the Solidarity for Climate Action plan states.

“This is the strongest piece of solidarity that people said couldn’t happen, and it is going to give us a much stronger voice at the municipal, the state and federal level.” Gerard said.

In the document, which was two years in the making, BGA outlines five major goals to address climate change and economic inequality.

Accomplishing the objectives would reduce greenhouse gas emissions to Net Zero by 2050, a level that would eliminate the most detrimental impacts of climate change. Secondly, the intent is to increase union density nationwide. Under the plan, the United States would also rebuild and modernize its infrastructure in ways that would reduce energy use and increase jobs. In addition, the plan is for the United States to reclaim leadership in the global economy in the areas of clean technology innovation, deployment, manufacturing and good job creation. The final goal is to foster safe and healthy workplaces that are free of hazardous chemicals and toxic pollution.

Collin O’Mara, President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation said that, while goals and aspirations are important, it’s imperative that the United States enact policies that will elevate and push them forward – which is the purpose of this program.

“We will work with our allies to transform this powerful platform into action across the country,” O’Mara said.

Sam Williamson, the Western Pennsylvania District Director for Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 32BJ, said workers are affected by the detrimental effects of both climate change and income inequality every day, in all parts of the country. He added that implementing Solidarity for Climate Action would build a future that would make all Americans proud. ­

When it comes to fostering economic security and a healthy living environment, Gerard said, “We’ll have both or we’ll have neither.” This document offers steps to ensure both.

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Posted In: Union Matters

Union Matters

Steel for Wind Power

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities. 

Siemens Gamesa last month laid off 130 workers at its turbine blade manufacturing plant in Iowa, just months after GE Renewable Energy decided to close an Arkansas factory and eliminate 470 jobs.

The companies reported shrinking demand for their products, even though U.S. consumption of wind energy increases every year.

America’s prosperity depends not only on harnessing this crucial energy source but also ensuring that highly skilled U.S. workers build the components with the cleanest technology available.

Right now, the nation relies on imported steel and turbine components from foreign manufacturers like China while America’s own steel industry—well equipped for this production—struggles because of dumping and other unfair trade practices.

Steel makes up the bulk of turbine hubs and the wind towers themselves. It’s also used to make the cranes and platforms necessary for installing the towers.

Yet the potential boon to America’s steel industry is just one reason to ramp up domestic production of wind energy infrastructure.

American steel production ranks among the cleanest in the world, while China has the highest carbon emissions of any steelmaking nation and flouts environmental regulations.

The nation’s highly-skilled steelmaking workforce must play an essential role in the deeply-needed revitalization and modernization of the nation’s failing infrastructure. Producing the components for harnessing wind energy domestically and cleanly is an important step that will put Americans to work and position the United States to be world leaders in this growing industry.

 

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work