Federal Environmental Policy Must Have Strong Labor and Community Provisions

WHEREAS, the consensus of the global scientific community has determined humanity has 12 years to act to avert the worst effects of a climate catastrophe; 

WHEREAS, climate change poses an immediate and long-term threat to all working people, our communities and our economic security; 

WHEREAS, workers, communities of color and low-income people suffer disproportionately from environmental degradation and climate change; 

WHEREAS, climate change is already harming working families and vulnerable populations through extreme hurricanes, wildfire, drought and flooding, increased stress on the agricultural sector, health impacts like heat stroke and the spread of infectious diseases; 

WHEREAS, Hurricane Harvey, on August 25, 2017, hit a large area of Texas and the surrounding region, caused at least 82 deaths, over $125 billion dollars in property damage, damaged 204,000 homes, attributable in part to climate change; 

WHEREAS, 37,000 Texans had to reside in shelters throughout the recovery process and 783,000 Texans registered for FEMA assistance;

WHEREAS, without taking concrete action now to address the climate crisis, the well-being and economic future of generations of people will be severely and irreversibly jeopardized; 

WHEREAS, if climate action is to address inequality, the labor movement must be at the center of shaping climate policies to include just transition for workers, expand collective bargaining rights and create green union careers, particularly in disadvantaged communities; 

WHEREAS, workers in existing jobs, including firefighters, nurses, construction workers, public transit workers, many in the public sector, and many more are already mitigating the health and environmental effects of climate change, preparing our infrastructure for sea level rise, and advancing Texas’ clean energy economy through a variety of ways; 

 WHEREAS, many union members work in sectors, such as construction, transportation, energy, agriculture, manufacturing and production, that will be directly impacted by transitioning to lower greenhouse gas emissions limits; 

WHEREAS, workers in these sectors are already threatened and affected by plant closures, outsourcing, and job losses from a global economy that is already transitioning away from fossil fuels with or without U.S. labor taking initiative in this transition; 

WHEREAS, with the support of the AFL-CIO, over 90 cities, more than 10 counties, and two states have adopted a goal of 100% renewable and zero-carbon electricity, many of which have demonstrated that clean energy industries can create good, middle-class jobs when linked with collective bargaining agreements; 

WHEREAS, many labor unions, and organizations and community allies have passed resolutions and/or supported bold policies to address the climate crisis and other pressing environmental issues;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the Texas AFL-CIO supports a federal environmental policy that expands collective bargaining and ensures the creation of union jobs through card-check neutrality agreements, prevailing wages, project labor agreements, enacting the provisions of the Employee Free Choice Act and requiring direct partnerships with joint labor-management apprenticeship programs; 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Texas AFL-CIO supports a federal environmental policy prioritizing projects, union career opportunities and investments in working-class, low-income and communities of color historically and disproportionality impacted by pollution, high unemployment, poverty and environmental injustice; 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Texas AFL-CIO supports a federal environmental policy that includes a strong and binding commitment on all Just Transition issues for workers and communities impacted by the transitioning economy so that working families and their communities have the opportunity to thrive rather than be left behind as they will if we neglect to get in front of this encroaching crisis; 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Texas AFL-CIO, supports a federal environmental policy that will include a GI Bill for workers and their affected communities that ensures the dignity and prosperity found at work, from good union jobs, and at home, from communities that aren’t left to languish in economic decay; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, the Texas AFL-CIO, will support a federal environmental policy in concert with environmental and community partners that support the above provisions.