New York, NY – Unions representing workers who understand all too well what happens when supercharged hurricanes and floods hit town are applauding the introduction of Congress Member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ [D-14th District] Green New Deal resolution this week.
“For labor unions like ours, climate change is an environmental issue, an economic opportunity and a political challenge that we know can destabilize our communities,” SEIU 32BJ Hector Figueroa said in a statement. “This is an opportunity to tackle economic inequality and re-industrialize America with a green economy through jobs that, with the right training, can provide career ladders for many low-wage workers who struggle to afford the high cost of living.”
Figueroa’s union is the largest property service workers union in the country with nearly 163,000 members in 11 states, and Washington, D.C.
Congress Member Ocasio-Cortez’ newly unveiled Green New Deal resolution in the House, along with Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey’s accompanying measure in the Senate, cites the dangers of increasing green house gasses and the ensuing need to reduce those emission through an “economic transformation.”
The resolution reportedly has at least 60 Democratic co-sponsors in the House, and 9 Democratic co-sponsors in the Senate. Although House Speaker and notorious corporatist Nancy Pelosi has already sounded a dismissive tone, referring to the Green New Deal as “The green dream, or whatever they call it.”
But 1199SEIU Secretary-Treasurer Maria Castañeda, cheered the joint resolution by Congress Member Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Markey. The union represents nearly 450,000 healthcare workers living and working along the U.S.’ vulnerable Eastern seaboard.
Our communities are becoming all too familiar with the devastating effects of hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, and other extreme weather patterns and events that claim innocent lives, and cause physical damage to buildings, roadways, and other important pieces of our infrastructure. — 1199SEIU Secretary-Treasurer Maria Castañeda
“Our communities are becoming all too familiar with the devastating effects of hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, and other extreme weather patterns and events that claim innocent lives, and cause physical damage to buildings, roadways, and other important pieces of our infrastructure,” Castañeda said in a statement. “We applaud Congress Member Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Markey for taking a stand to protect our planet from irreparable damage, while fighting to create good, family-sustaining jobs that will help protect working people and our communities for future generations.”
Efforts are already underway to make workers in New York the beneficiaries of Green New Deal economics. There are about 20 winds farms now in operation, with 20 more under construction or seeking approvals from state regulators. Last fall, Governor Andrew Cuomo said he wanted half the state’s electricity to come from renewable, green energy sources by 2030.
Lara Skinner, associate director of the Worker Institute at Cornell University and chair of its Labor Leading on Climate Initiative, recently told LaborPress, “This is an example of what a Green new Deal could look like — putting people to work addressing climate change.”
At a climate change rally at Battery Park in September, DC37 Climate Justice Committee Co-Chair Jon Foster told LaborPress, “We need to get the idea across to labor and everybody [else] — but to Labor in particular — about how climate change is going to affect every facet of our work, and our own personal lives. The climate is starting to spin more quickly out of control than anybody knows — Labor has got to wake up to this issue — we have got to mobilize and make it one of our priorities.”
Figueroa added that, for the first time, “our elected officials recognize that our climate and economic crises are intertwined and can only be solved with bold and effective government action.”
“We reside in coastal cities that have been flooded by storms like Hurricanes Sandy and Maria, so we know this kind of ambitious, large scale vision to reduce greenhouse gasses and switch to renewable energies is both doable and indispensable,” he said.
Earlier this week, Congress Member Ocasio-Cortez told NPR, “Even the solutions that we have considered big and bold are nowhere near the scale of the actual problem that climate change presents to us, to our country, to the world.”