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Energy is today at the center of huge social and political conflicts in many parts of the world, and the number of struggles appears to be proliferating. Unions are engaging in these struggles, but often on different sides. Some have sided with their employers in the coal, oil, and gas industries; meanwhile, others—driven by concerns about air and water pollution, land despoliation and seizures, displacement of communities, climate change, and so forth—are part of the opposition to the expansion of fossil fuels and “extractivism” in general. The outcome of present-day struggles will have a clear bearing on the effort to democratize energy in the years ahead.
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Table X–2 from “Fortune Global 500” (2013), http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/global500/2013/full_list.
Nicolas Stern, The Economics of Climate Change: The Stern Review (Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 2007).
As a result of this market-based, green growth influence, the AFL-CIO has, since the 1990s, never supported the greenhouse gas reduction approach of the Kyoto Protocol or the commitment of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) to the science-based emissions reduction targets proposed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Every other major national labor body supported these targets and they continue to do so, but not the AFL-CIO. For the ITUC’s position, see http://www.ituc-csi.org/IMG/pdf/ituc_contribution_to_unfccc_cop22_en.pdf.
European Trade Union Institute, Exiting from the Crisis: Towards a Model of More Equitable and Sustainable Growth: Report of a Trade Union, Task Force, edited by David Coats, accessed April 24, 2017, http://www.ituc-csi.org/IMG/pdf/Exiting_from_the_crisis_Washington.pdf; Anabella Rosemberg, “Rio 20: Trade Unions Submit Their Proposals for the Summit,” International Trade Union Confederation; Building Workers’ Power, ITUC, October 27, 2011, accessed April 24, 2017, http://www.ituc-csi.org/rio-20-trade-unions-submit-their.html?lang=en; Sharan Burrow, “No Social Justice Without Environmental Protection,” International Trade Union Confederation; Building Workers, ITUC, June 22, 2012, accessed April 24, 2017, http://www.ituc-csi.org/no-social-justice-without.html.
ITUC, “COP15 Evaluation & Report on Trade Union Activities,” circulated via e-mail to delegates, February 15, 2010.
Robert Baugh, memo to Richard L. Trumka, “Report to the AFL-CIO on the Copenhagen Climate Talks” (unpublished).
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “IPCC Fifth Assessment Synthesis Report,” accessed November 29, 2014, http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/syr/SYR_AR5_LONGERREPORT.pdf.
Oil and Natural Gas Industry Labor-Management Committee, accessed April 24, 2017, http://www.ongil-mc.org/about; Leadership Chairman: Sean McGarvey, president, Building-Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO; Secretary/Treasurer Jack Gerard, president and CEO, American Petroleum Institute.
Importantly, the four union presidents counterpoise jobs and the environment—choosing the former while dismissing the latter. The letter acknowledges the fact that “further development of Canada’s oil sands puts in jeopardy U.S. efforts aimed at capping carbon emissions and greenhouse gases” and that “comprehensive energy and environmental policy should strive to address climate concerns while simultaneously ensuring adequate supplies of reliable energy and promoting energy independence and national security.” Union leaders letter to Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton, unpublished.
10. “Labor Agreement for Keystone XL Pipeline to Create 13,000 American Jobs,” Pipeline News, posted October 1, 2010, accessed April 24, 2017, https://pipeline-news.com/labor-agreement-keystone-xl-pipeline-create-13000-american-jobs.
Koch Industries, Inc., accessed April 24, 2017, http://www.kochfacts.com/kf/americans-for-prosperity.
LiUNA and Operating Engineers, Letter to the Honorable John Boehner, Speaker, and the Honorable Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader, September 9, 2015, accessed April 24, 2017, https://energycommerce.house.gov/news-center/letters/letters-support-hr-702-adapt-changing-crude-oil-market-conditions.
The Business Journals, “Union Builds Bridges with Business—and Even Some Republicans” (video), posted April 22, 2015, accessed April 24, 2017, http://www.bizjournals.com/bizjournals/washingtonbureau/2015/04/union-builds-bridges-with-business-and-even-some.html. The full quote: “Even if you look at Koch Industries—they’re one of our biggest clients. You’ll never see us making public statements saying negative things about Koch Industries. They’re a huge client of ours. Do we agree with some of the things that they supposedly support? No. Do we understand why they do it? Yeah, OK, because they’re looking for political advantage for a political point of view, and the Democrats don’t see it the way they see it. And other unions in the labor movement tend to be much more Democratic unions. And if you can hurt the labor movement, i.e., you hurt the Democratic Party. It’s just a system that we really don’t want to be engaged or involved in.”
North American Building Trades Unions (NABTU), press release, posted December 13, 2016, accessed April 24, 2017, https://nabtu.org/press_releases/nomination-rex-tillerson-u-s-secretary-state.
LiUNA press statement, “Ban on Offshore Drilling—Another Bad Energy Proposal,” posted December 22, 2016, accessed April 24, 2017, http://www.liuna.org/news/story/ban-on-offshore-drilling%E2%80%94another-bad-energy-proposal.
LiUNA, “Clean Power Progress,” accessed April 24, 2017, http://cleanpowerprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Factsheet-UnitedStates-11.pdf.
ATU and TWU, “ATU & TWU Oppose Approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline and Call for End of Increased Use of Tar Sands Oil,” press release, August 19, 2011, accessed April 24, 2017, https://www.atu.org/media/releases/atu-twu-oppose-approval-of-the-keystone-xl-pipeline-and-call-for-end-of-increased-use-of-tar-sands-oil.
Statement, LiUNA, September 9, 2011. On November 11, 2011, O’Sullivan wrote in Nebraska’s Journal Star: “LIUNA members are angry and surprised that some of our fellow union brothers and sisters, who don’t have any members in the pipeline industry and who themselves have never worked on a pipeline, now speak out as pipeline experts in their attempt to block Keystone. For thousands of LIUNA workers, the stakes are too high to not hold them accountable; LiUNA President Terry O’Sullivan, “Keystone XL opponents have let down America’s workers,” accessed April 24, 2017, http://journalstar.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/local-view-keystone-xl-opponents-have-let-down-america-s/article_a001d329-2869-5275-acd1-5347f79cadf6.html.
Communication Workers of America (CWA), “Environmental Groups, Unions Support President’s Decision on Keystone XL,” posted Wednesday, January 18, 2012, accessed April 24, 2017, http://www.cwa-union.org/news/entry/environmental_groups_unions_support_presidents_decision_on_keystone_xl#.UPRjyrZgPrE.
Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO, Mark Ayers (president), http://www.christianpost.com/news/obamas-keystone-decision-alienates-him-from-the-majority-of-americans-67553/#0rqCqD9thhzAh08q.99.
“Natural Gas Now, the Next Infrastructure Challenge: Conversation with Sean McGarvey” (video), posted May 14, 2015, accessed April 24, 2017, ember https://youtube/r89lKwockYY.
Sean McGarvey NABTU, letter to Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO, September 15, 2016.
AFL-CIO, press statement, “Dakota Access Pipeline Provides High Quality Jobs,” September 16, 2016, accessed April 24, 2017, http://www.aflcio.org/Press-Room/Press-Releases/Dakota-Access-Pipeline-Provides-High-Quality-Jobs.
“The European Social Model is an example for the rest of the world of a society based on social justice and solidarity, where economic and social advancement take equal priority, and where decent work and social protection combat poverty and social exclusion. That is why the success of Social Europe is so important not only for European citizens, but also for developing just and fair political systems in other countries.” ETUC, June 2006; ETUC, Brussels, June 5, 2007, ETUC position on the revision of the EU Emissions trading directive, https://www.etuc.org/documents/etuc-position-revision-eu-emissions-trading-directive#.VomRKFKGbX8; Trade Union Sustainable Development Advisory Committee (TUSDAC), 2007, cited by Paul Hampton, Workers & Unions for Climate Solidarity: Tackling Climate Change in a Neoliberal World (Routledge, June 16, 2015), chapter 4; ETUC, ETUC’s position on the climate change and energy package, position adopted by ETUC Executive Committee, March 4, 2008 (Brussels), p. 1, https://www.etuc.org/documents/etuc%E2%80%99s-position-climate-change-and-energy-package#.VpKnUlKGbX8.
International Trade Union Confederation, “ITUC Growing Green and Decent Jobs,” April 2012, http://www.ituc-csi.org/IMG/pdf/ituc_green_jobs_summary_en_final.pdf.
PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC), The World in 2050, February 2015. PwC analysis is based on data from the World Bank, IMF, and other sources.
“Trade Union Resolution on Labour and Environment,” ITUC, June 11–13, 2012, posted January 16, 2014, http://www.sustainlabour.org/documentos/Trade Union Resolution on Labour and Environment.pdf.
BWI Conference on Sustainable Industries, “Fighting Back for Sustainable Development in Construction and Forestry,” Declaration on Rio+20 Summit, June 11–14, 2012, http://www.ituc-csi.org/IMG/pdf/bwi_rio_declaration_2012_-_final.pdf.
Alliance of Progressive Labor (Philippines), “Fight for Our Future! No Price on Nature!,” Statement dated June 23, 2012, accessed April 24, 2017, http://www.apl.org.ph/?s=nature.
Canadian Union of Public Employees, Working Harmoniously on the Earth, CUPE’s National Environment Policy, CUPE.SCFP, accessed January 26, 2014, http://cupe.ca/updir/Working_harmoniously_on_the_Earth_-_FINAL.pdf. According to CUPE “We will work to keep energy generation and transmission public and promote public renewable energy, including advocating for bringing energy generation and transmission back into public ownership and control where it has been privatized.” See also Statement by National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA), December 2012, NUMSA central committee meeting (CC), held December 11–14, at Vincent Mabuyakhulu Conference, “We believe a just transition must be based in worker-controlled, democratic social ownership of key means of production and means of subsistence....Without this struggle over ownership, and the struggle for a socially owned renewable energy sector, a just transition will become a capitalist concept, building up a capitalist ‘green economy.’”
Sean Sweeney, “Resist, Reclaim, Restructure: Unions and the Struggle for Energy Democracy,” 2012, Trade Unions For Energy Democracy, accessed April 24, 2017, http://unionsforenergydemocracy.org/resources/tued-publications.
International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA ), Renewable Energy Jobs & Access (Abu Dhabi, 2012).
National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, statement from International Conference on Building a Renewable Energy Sector in South Africa, Johannesburg, February 4–8, 2012.
Global Carbon Project, Global Carbon Budget, 2015, accessed April 24, 2017, http://www.globalcarbonproject.org/carbonbudget/15/files/GCP_budget_2015_v1.02.pdf.
Public Services International Research Unit, “Energy Liberalisation, Privatisation and Public Ownership,” September 2013, David Hall, Sandra van Niekerk, Jenny Nguyen, Steve Thomas, accessed April 24, 2017, www.world-psi.org/sites/default/files/en_psiru_ppp_final_lux.pdf.
- Conflicting Agendas: Energy Democracy and the Labor Movement
- Island Press/Center for Resource Economics
- Chapter 7