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Good green jobs require building ties between environment and labor – People’s World

Good green jobs require building ties between environment and labor – People’s World

Good green jobs require building ties between environment and labor
Good green jobs require building ties between environment and labor

Quest Energy employee holds his mining helmet. These people will lose their jobs. To ensure a sustainable transition to clean energy, a plan and transition that is both feasible and fair will be needed. | Ryan C. Clemens/AP

Many believe the transition from fossil fuels and clean energy is simpler than it really is. For example, the belief that the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy will result in better jobs, a better economic system, and make it a key ally in fighting climate change is the dominant one. This is a future that is both possible and necessary. . . It is not an easy task. The working class has the ability to win this battle, just like in any other struggle.

Interview with a lifelong laborer and environmental activist for this story People’s WorldAlong with prominent scientists, he believes that good green jobs can only be created if solid connections are made between the movements for a clean and the labor movement.

Carl Wood, a San Diego resident, spoke to People’s WorldHis vast experience in both labor and environmental movements will help him to advise on the matter. He is a former Director of Regulatory Affairs for the Utility Workers Union of America as well as a former California Public Utilities commissioner. He was also the former president of California’s Utility Consumer Advocacy Group.

Wood says that acknowledging the context and scope of the issue, and the limits of capitalism in solving the problem of the environment, requires looking back at the past.

He noted that capitalism has seen many transitions in history. One of the most important was the enclosure and management of communal land in England between the late 1600s and the early 1800s. In order to increase economic efficiency, the peasants were driven from the land. Many working people lost their livelihoods, and were effectively driven into the cities. This was part of the formation of capitalism England.

It is a serious problem that coal miners could be displaced by the transition to clean energy industries. | Dake Kang/AP

Other types of transitions continued from then onwards. He said, “We all know the Industrial Revolution and the consolidation small workshops into large factories and the introduction automation.” There were many workers who were forced from their jobs by this process. This is because there are many historical examples of this process, and technological changes are dangerous for most workers. What were we talking about when we talked about the transition from fossil fuel energy to other forms? It is not surprising that workers are concerned.

These changes were made decades ago and industries had a few solutions. But they didn’t address what was really at the root of the problem. Wood stated that in the steel industry, where I worked for 10+ years, my job was eliminated due to the introduction new technologies. It was convenient to blame these changes on foreign competition. Wood gave several examples of this happening. He mentioned the Trade Readjustment Act which claimed that U.S. workers were being replaced in countries like Japan and Germany. Therefore, additional unemployment benefits were offered to those whose jobs were affected by this pretext. He noted that this was possible if someone was eligible, but it didn’t solve any problems.

Wood stated that they did not address the root problem, which was technology changes. They instead sought temporary relief from so-called unfair competitor. You can’t address the wrong problem and get the wrong solutions. This kind of history is deeply ingrained in the history of the working classes of this country. It’s not surprising that workers in the fossil fuel sector are resistant to changes that involve new technology.

Worker as cannon fodder

Scientists confirm Wood’s assertions. They confirm that the dilemma is not just about Wood. When However, a transition to greener industries and more jobs is possible. How. The transition is taking place, it’s just happening at random. said Jeremy Richardsona former senior energy analyst for the Union of Concerned Scientists. It’s happening without foresight or thought. That is why it is so difficult to approach it from a communal perspective, but especially for workers.

Richardson, who grew up in West Virginia’s coal mining towns, highlighted this aspect of the problem as crucial. He said that it was a tragedy for workers in the coal industry that their livelihoods are in danger. He did note that the Build Back better Act contained a few very important pieces that would help workers and communities. The Senate blocked President Biden’s Build Back Better Program from passing because of two recalcitrant Democrats, Joe Manchin from West Virginia and Kirsten Sinema from Arizona. Along with all 50 Republicans.

According to a studyThe Union of Concerned Scientists and the Utility Workers of America have estimated that the Biden administration would need at least $83 billion to support coal workers and adapt to a low carbon economy. This analysis indicated that these workers would require five years of wage replacement, ongoing healthcare coverage, education benefits, and continued wage replacement. This industrial phaseout is essential to meet the goal of reducing U.S. carbon emissions by half by 2030. However, if there is no proper transition for workers, jobs would be lost and livelihoods would be a mere tool in the fight against climate change.

Carl Wood stated that he participated in many national conferences during his time representing his union, including one with the BlueGreen Alliance. The goal of these conferences was to find common ground between labor and environmental movements.

He said that we had to try to get environmentalists to understand the problems workers were facing. There is a common formula that some environmental organizations use. We provide job retraining, relocation aid, and new jobs created in green industries. Imagine you are a member of my union and you work as a mechanic at a coal-fired plant in southeast Ohio. Your wages are good so that youre able buy a house and send your children to college. Your house will be worth less if the plant is closed. This is also because it is a strong economic bulwark in the area.

It is crucial that environmentalists and unions work together to achieve their goals without compromising the other. Jason Walsh, executive director at the BlueGreen Alliance The issue was outlinedSo, the environment and creating work can go hand-in-hand. HaveWe are dealing with more than one crisis simultaneously, so it is essential that we work hand in hand. We have a climate emergency to deal with. But we also have income inequality in this nation that is rooted in economic and racial inequalities. We need to find solutions that are equally interconnected and mutually-reinforcing as those causing the crises.

Wood said that it is not American capitalism’s practice to care for workers. In the early 1980s, there was a push for the expansion of the Redwood National Forest. It was supported by many environmental organizations and seemed possible. Phillip Burton, a highly influential congressman, supported the proposal. He quickly realized that the unions opposed this proposal, as it would have stopped logging in large parts of northern California and displaced workers and loggers. Burton met with them and came up with a very comprehensive solution.

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Workers nearing retirement age were offered funding to accelerate or accelerate their pensions. Wage support was provided to those who lost their job. Other provisions addressed the needs of younger workers not yet in retirement. Burton was able to get this through Congress. It is a shining example of what could be done for displaced miners and workers at power plants if enough political will was shown.

Non-union jobs. vs. non-union Green Jobs

Logger Allen Miller in Lower Burrell (Pa.) | Louis B. Ruediger /Pittsburgh Tribune-Review via AP

Wood also highlighted a fact that is often overlooked: many clean energy jobs, just like their predecessors in fossil fuel, are non-union. He explained that there is a capitalist sector within the renewable energy industry. They also have better public relations than the utility-based fossil fuel generation industry. Although they project a much more attractive image, the truth is that they are almost entirely non-union and act aggressively. Anti-union. In reality, the big utilities in New York and California were political liabilities. Therefore, the energy generation industry was made available to newcomers. These facilities were known as qualifying facilities under the Public Utilities Regulatory Policy Act 1978. Although it was supposed to create a more environmentally-friendly generation, it was actually an attempt to break up utility monopolies and allow capitalists to join it.

These false resolutions are not meant to replace capitalist processes. The key to changing the status quo is a working-class approach in utility regulation. Wood continued: The Green New Deal tends be the starting point [in that fight]For many, it is anti-capitalist and not necessarily working class. Many of these so-called green utilities industries, which are non-union and actively resist unionization efforts, fund a lot. Although these organizations may contain people who are objectively working-class, they are not the whole.

Utility regulation has clear class interests. Their rates are based on a process that divides consumers into different categories, such as residential, commercial, residential, or agricultural. With the exception of working-class consumers, advocates are available to argue their cases before legislatures and commissions. These are the changes that are required.

He concluded that many are not pushing for a just transition. That this must be done in a manner that protects all working-class communities. It isn’t being argued in a proper way. It gets treated as a broad, humanistic view, which makes it vulnerable to capitalists taking advantage of the issue for their own gain. This is a great opportunity for political leadership. There are not many Phillip Burtons today who will align with labor. It is time to adopt a radical American position, at least in protecting the interests of workers.

Jason Walsh of the BlueGreen Alliances made a similar declaration. He stated, “I am hopeful that cleaner energy jobs can deliver benefits for workers.” I believe that the president and Congress recognize the interconnectedness of our problems and that we must seek mutually reinforcing solutions. We also have a president who puts workers and jobs at its core in his climate and clean-energy policies. So I am hopeful that we can move forward and create a clean energy economy that is fair and can be proud of.


CONTRIBUTOR

Blake Skylar


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