Resolution #78A-21-05

Securing Our Labor Rights in the Climate Transition

Climate change is among the most critical political, economic, and social issues of the 21st century. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), composed of many of the world's leading climate scientists, released a report on August 9, 2021 which concluded that human-induced climate change is the cause of the unprecedented and more frequent extreme weather events we are experiencing across the entire globe. The report further states that we are set to surpass an increase in global temperatures of 1.5 degrees Celsius or nearly 3 degrees Farenheit by 2040, and concludes that bold action must be taken in order to reverse these life threatening climate changes. This unfolding climate crisis presents an immediate and long term threat to working people, communities, and the economy.

Many CWA members are already working in these extreme weather conditions that will likely become worse, leaving them susceptible to health issues from heat and cold waves, severe weather events, and other disruptions magnified by the climate crisis. All CWA members belong to communities which have been and will continue to be negatively impacted by the personal and economic consequences of the climate crisis and the resulting severe weather events such as flooding, wildfires and droughts. It is our responsibility as a union to ensure safe working conditions for our members, and our union is not alone in seeing the impact of climate change on all workers.

There is a growing consensus in the labor movement that we must actively participate in addressing the climate crisis. It is clear that policies to adequately address and potentially counteract these trends will require collective action to address the challenges, along with economic changes, social movements across society and empowered workers. At the same time, pro-worker policies can ensure that addressing these challenges will create good union jobs for CWA members in the renewable energy economy and help us grow our union.

CWA members today have the skills and expertise needed to prepare and repair communities impacted by climate change. We do the essential work in the wake of climate-driven extreme weather such as fixing communications outages after hurricanes, snowstorms, and wildfires. Additionally, significant numbers of CWA members already are employed in the “Green Economy,” notably at electric bus manufacturer New Flyer. Others are fighting to get our long-time employers to make greener choices, including the IUE-CWA members who are studying how employers can reduce costs by becoming more energy efficient in their factories and purchasing decisions, and pushing General Electric, which manufactures offshore wind turbines, to use excess capacity at its facilities to bring this work back to the United States. CWA members are also working on the frontlines of the policy and advocacy fights at environmental justice and conservation organizations, including the Sunrise Movement, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the National Audubon Society.

The climate crisis requires the transformation of our economy and presents an opportunity for the creation of millions of well paying union jobs in rapidly expanding green industry sectors. It is incumbent on CWA to work to ensure jobs in the green economy are unionized, well-paid, and that the benefits of this needed and critical transition are shared by all.

Resolved: CWA will continue efforts to organize frontline Green Economy workers in the manufacturing of wind turbines, batteries, semiconductors, components for electric vehicles, in solar energy, and in climate justice campaigns, conservation, and climate policy work.

Resolved: CWA will fight for protections and a just transition for workers whose industries or workplaces may be disrupted by the climate crisis and work to ensure that CWA members are prepared to move into the industries of the future.

Resolved: CWA will work to ensure that all members who face on-the-job health and safety hazards resulting from the effects of climate change have all the resources and standards in place that are needed to ensure that they are able to work in safe environments.

Resolved: CWA will commit to developing opportunities for members to work together across industry sectors to identify ways we can combat climate change.

Resolved: CWA commits to support legislative action to combat Climate Change that creates good union jobs in the green economy, and promotes domestic production of renewable energy technologies with union workers, while ensuring that billionaires and giant Wall Street investment firms do not extract profits from Green Industry while leaving workers behind.