Engaging Our Union Members To Combat Climate Change

There’s no avoiding the reality of what’s happening to our environment. Without mitigating measures global climate change will have significant negative economic, environmental and fiscal implications for state and local governments (and the jobs they provide), as well as our communities and residents.

Fortunately, many individuals and organizations in Connecticut are dealing with the looming crisis. One of those groups, the CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs is dedicated to building alliances among diverse constituencies, including organized labor, to combat climate change, create jobs and promote racial, economic and environmental justice.

Council 4 is among the many Connecticut unions that have partnered with the Roundtable.

“We are proud to support the work of the CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs,” Council 4 Executive Director Jody Barr said. “We can only be successful in our jobs if we stem the economic and environmental havoc caused by a rapidly changing climate.”

Labor unions are finally recognizing the dangers posed by climate change and global warming. In 2018, delegates to the AFSCME International Convention in Boston unanimously adopted a resolution calling for action. The resolution read in part:

“Climate change is perhaps as much an economic issue as it is an environmental issue, and represents a dagger pointed at the heart of AFSCME because our very existence relies on the ability to negotiate good contracts tied to solvent, stable government budgets.”

Recognizing the interconnection between jobs and the environment has motivated Council 4 members like Kim Rice of AFSCME Local 714 (State P-2 Human & Social Services) to be a part of the Roundtable’s activities, including their outreach to unions.

“There are dots – and sometimes we don’t always see them,” Rice said. “So I think that we all must work together because [climate change] is impacting every part of life: housing, jobs, medicine – everything. It’s an 'us' problem, not a 'me' or an 'I' problem.”

John Humphries, Executive Director/Lead Organizer for the Roundtable, recently joined the Council 4 Unplugged podcast to discuss the importance of building a coalition with organized labor to advance economic and environmental justice – and to deconstruct the false dichotomy that labor and environmental groups are at inevitably at odds.

“We cannot solve the climate crisis without labor. We can both protect the climate and create good jobs,” Humphries said.

Council 4 members have an opportunities to take part in a special week of action Sept. 20-27. The“Connecticut Climate Crisis” mobilization will kick off with a rally on Friday, Sept. 20 at the State Capitol, starting at noon.

In Connecticut, and across the country, people everywhere will walk out of their homes and workplaces together to join youth-led Climate Strike actions demanding that leaders respond to the crisis of climate change and global warming.

Click here to access the “Week of Climate Action” webpage to see a full list of events in which you can participate.

And be sure to like the CT Climate Crisis Mobilization’s Facebook page for more updates on the Strike Event.