Sierra Club, United Steelworkers Announce ’Blue-Green Alliance’
June 7 , 2006
Good Jobs, Clean Environment, Safer World Cited as Uniting Principles
Washington, DC-The United Steelworkers (USW), North America’s largest private sector manufacturing union with 850,000 members, and the Sierra Club, the nation’s largest grassroots environmental organization with 750,000 members, announced today the formation of a strategic alliance to pursue a joint public policy agenda under the banner of Good Jobs, A Clean Environment, and A Safer World.
“The Blue/Green Alliance is one of the most important initiatives undertaken by the environmental movement in decades,” said Carl Pope, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. “We have reached a point in the development of a global economy where we can either use our planet’s resources for long-term sustainability or to create an ever more dangerous polarization of wealth and poverty. Our new alliance allows us to address the great challenge of the global economy in the 21st next century--how to provide good jobs, a clean environment and a safer world.”
“Good jobs and a clean environment are important to American workers--we cannot have one without the other, said Leo Gerard, International President of USW. ”In fact, secure 21st century jobs are those that will help solve the problem of global warming with energy efficiency and renewable energy"
A joint resolution establishing the Blue/Green Alliance was signed by Gerard and Pope, declaring that, “This alliance will focus its resources on those issues which have the greatest potential to unite the American people in pursuit of a global economy that is more just and equitable and founded on principles of environmental and economic sustainability.”
Gerard and Pope also announced their intention to launch a “New Vision for America” tour designed to highlight the economic benefits of dealing with global warming. The tour will feature events in several cities across the country whose mayors have embraced the Climate Protection Agreement, a movement of more than 200 U.S. mayors who have vowed to take action in support of the Kyoto Treaty on global warming.
Mayor R.T. Rybak of Minneapolis, one of the signers of the Climate Protection Agreement, said, “This alliance between the Steelworkers and the Sierra Club is exactly what America needs to help promote positive choices. We can have stable jobs based on sound environmental principles. I look forward to welcoming the ’New Vision’ tour to Minneapolis.”
The USW and the Sierra Club have worked jointly on issues of mutual concern for many years, including the Clean Air Act, trade reform, and corporate responsibility. Currently, the two organizations have joint projects in fifteen states. The new Alliance will build on these existing programs and focus initially on three key issues-global warming and clean energy, fair trade, and reducing toxics. The work will begin in four states-Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Ohio, and Washington with plans to expand into at least 10 more states in the next two years.
The Alliance will be headquartered in Minneapolis, MN in the USW District #11 office. The first Executive Director of the Alliance will be David Foster, former District #11 Director of the USW. The Alliance’s Blue/Green organizers will be housed in USW offices around the country.
The USW also released its new Environmental Policy Statement in conjunction with the Alliance announcement. Carl Pope called the statement, “the most important environmental statement to be issued by any trade union in North America-and indeed would make most environmental groups proud. American public policy debate is deeply polarized and paralyzed today. By reaching across the divides of class and geography, the Sierra Club and Steelworkers are showing that there is another way. ”
The document provides North American workers with a strategic vision on how to fight for both job security and an improved quality of life. North American workers know that the global economy is not being managed in their interest.
Leo Gerard concluded, “We believe that the complex problems of a global society are interrelated and that a coalition such as ours can focus the country’s attention on the positive solutions-whether global warming or outsourcing, public health or public safety, or workers’ rights and environmental standards.”
David Willett (202) 675-6698
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