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Labor Supports “Green New Deal”

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Extreme weather events such as Hurricane Sandy are just some of the consequences of climate change. (FEMA)
Extreme weather events such as Hurricane Sandy are just some of the consequences of climate change. (FEMA)
February 8, 2019

NEW YORK - Organized labor is coming out in support of a national "Green New Deal."

On Thursday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., introduced a resolution calling on Congress to combat global climate change by investing in sustainable infrastructure and creating millions of new jobs. Labor unions are excited by the economic opportunities that shifting to a green economy could provide.

Alison Hirsh, vice president and political director of SEIU Local 32 BJ, said the resolution also takes on economic inequality by putting the needs of workers front and center in its vision for the future.

"Explicitly written in the Green New Deal is that there would be a right to collectively bargain in these new jobs," she said. "There'll be a federal jobs guarantee; that the jobs created will be family-sustaining wages and benefits."

She said the Green New Deal represents a recognition that climate change and the economic crisis are related and can only be solved by bold and effective government action.

32 BJ represents more that 160,000 doormen, security officers, cleaners and airport workers on the East Coast. Hirsh said they're all at risk from the effects of extreme weather brought on by climate change, such as Hurricane Sandy.

"When it hit New York," she said, "we had members who were stuck in their buildings where they work for days, trying to get the electricity to go back, to fix the generators, etc."

She called a large-scale government vision to reduce greenhouse gases and switch to renewable energy both doable and indispensable.

While the Green New Deal resolution does not contain specific legislation to achieve the goals it sets out, it provides a framework to begin that process. Hirsh noted that Ocasio-Cortez has been in office for less than two months.

"It will take much longer to develop the actual policies, to put together the infrastructure projects that are needed," Hirsh said, "and so the hard work is about to begin."

The resolution is online at ocasio-cortez.house.gov.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY