Alliances Building a Stronger Future - Day Two Plenary Session Recap
Remembering our Past to Guide our Future
Congressman Xavier Becerra opened up the second day of the Good Jobs, Green Jobs West Conference, focusing on moving our country by remembering our past and working to a better future.
“We gotta know where we came from to know how to get there,” said Becerra. Becerra spoke of his father and the struggles he had in the past, and asked if a man today would be able to provide for his family in the same way.
“We must be able to merge good jobs, with environmentally sane jobs,” said Becerra. “When you do a green job you create two or three more jobs with it. It’s time to invest in our people and give us the next big thing.”
Becerra added there are many in Washington, D.C. not seeing the opportunity green jobs will provide the United States. “It’s time for America to launch its next big initiative,” he said. “Green jobs will be good jobs; green jobs will be tomorrow’s jobs.”
“We see what’s in the future, we know where we’re going, and we know who we’re taking with us,” said Becerra. “Let’s get some good jobs.”
Fight for Good Jobs is Taking Place around the World
Tony Sheldon, the head of the Transport Workers in Australia, spoke about the struggles for good jobs in his country.
“What are we going to leave for our kids,” said Sheldon. “Are we the first generation to leave the world worse for our kids? We’re here to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Sheldon spoke of workers he met yesterday at a rally for good jobs in recycling. “I want to leave a better place for my kids than was left for me. We want justice, we want an environment that’s pleasurable to be working in.”
He said he worries that if American workers’ rights were taken away, that would spread to his home country, but that he believes the bond between union members and environmentalists is key to winning the fight.
“Let’s win. Let’s do it,” he concluded.
Coalitions Building a Stronger America
The plenary panel was focused on those bonds joining environmentalists and union members, featuring leaders from both sides discussing the challenges and opportunities. Panelists included Jon Barton from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Patricia Castellanos from the LA Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE), David Steel from the U.S. Green Chamber of Commerce, and Sarah Hodgdon from the Sierra Club. The panel, moderated by BlueGreen Alliance’s Lisa Hoyos, began with a discussion of blue-green alliances that have been successful.
Barton spoke of how SEIU janitors in Minneapolis who campaigned for greener, safer chemicals in the workplace in their contract, in addition to energy efficiency efforts and training for the union members.
Don’t Waste LA and RePower LA were among the examples cited by Castellanos from LAANE. She also focused on the Coalition for Clean and Safe Ports, meant to address the environmental crisis in the port. “Those ports are one of the largest polluters in the region.”
Hodgdon from the Sierra Club focused on their efforts in Washington to retire a coal plant collaborating with the union members working for it.
The panelists also spoke of challenges and conflict they encountered building these alliances, and they concluded with their future steps to further strengthen bonds between union members and environmentalists.
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