Busting the “Jobs vs. Environment” Myth

Blue-Green Alliance

Courtesy Blue-Green Alliance

 

By Rachel Martin (Sierra Club) and Steffi Domike (United Steel Workers)

In June 2006, Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope and United Steelworkers International President Leo Gerard met to sign an historic agreement between the Sierra Club, the largest grassroots-based environmental organization in the U.S., and the United Steelworkers, the largest industrial union in North America.

In signing the agreement, Pope stated that "The Blue/Green Alliance is one of the most important initiatives undertaken by the environmental movement in decades. We have reached a point in the development of a global economy where we can either use our planet's resources for long-term sustainability or to create an ever more dangerous polarization of wealth and poverty. Our new alliance allows us to address the great challenge of the global economy in the 21st next century—how to provide good jobs, a clean environment and a safer world."

We need an energy policy that promotes visionary solutions like clean cars and clean energy, not one that rips off consumers; fouls our land, air, and water; threatens our children’s health; and places our armed forces at risk to defend an ever-increasing addiction to foreign oil. We need a fair trade policy that benefits low income and working people and protects workers’ rights and the environment. And we need to protect workers and their communities from irresponsible corporate practices that release toxic chemicals in our workplaces and neighborhoods, endangering us all.

Along with Ohio, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Washington, Pennsylvania is one of the first five states identified by the national Blue Green Alliance (BGA) for joint labor-environmental activities starting this year.  In 2007, we will be focusing our efforts in Southwestern PA.

The potential for this Alliance in our state is huge.  In Pennsylvania, the USW and Sierra Club have a combined membership of nearly 100,000 – more than 70,000 Steelworkers and over 20,000 Sierra Club members.  These individuals are connected to more than 135,000 family members – extending the reach of the USW and Sierra Club within Pennsylvania to more than a quarter million.

The primary goals of the PA Blue Green Alliance are to:

  • Spur the development of green jobs by pushing for implementation of Energy Solutions Plans by Pennsylvania cities signed on to the US Mayors Climate Protection Agreement;
  • Create an informed network of key leaders, activists and members from Pennsylvania’s labor and environmental movements to guarantee maximum coordination and effectiveness in conveying our shared vision to the public and to administrative decision-makers;
  • Build a leadership team across the state that can develop and implement local, regional and statewide policy campaigns on clean energy and jobs, clean cars and green chemistry; and
  • Involve the public through traditional grassroots organizing and education activities, using print materials, earned and paid media coverage, and engaging events.

Rachel Martin is a Senior Regional Representative in the Club’s Pittsburgh
office. Steffi Domike is Communication Coordinator of the USW’s associate member program.

 

Published March 2007