Labour unions disagree over NextGen Climate alliance

On  May 13, NextGen Climate announced the formation of the For Our Future Political Action Committee (PAC)  , which includes labour unions and youth groups, to campaign for environmental justice issues.   Subsequently, seven building trades unions send a letter to Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO,  demanding that the AFL-CIO cut its ties with Tom Steyer, the billionaire who funds NextGen Climate . The Labourer’s International Union (LIUNA) also  sent its own letter, which characterized the AFL-CIO relationship as a “politically bankrupt betrayal” of union members.  Both letters were reproduced in “Rift Between Labor and Environmentalists Threatens Democratic Turnout Plan” in the New York Times (May 16).  The New York Times article prompted the Labor Network for Sustainability to write:  “The Times characterized this as a “rift between labor and environmentalists.” It is much better understood, however, as an effort by a small group of unions to retain their veto power within the AFL-CIO.”…  “The great majority of unions that accepted the alliance with NextGen Climate should proudly defend it as a way to express this historic tradition of meeting their members’ needs by addressing the most pressing needs of society.”

The AFL-CIO officially endorsed Hillary Clinton on June 16 ; LIUNA  has also endorsed Hillary Clinton, and  launched a campaign promoting natural gas as a bridging fuel and as an important fuel for the future on June 23; see their campaign website Clean Power Progress .   The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is not one of the NextGen PAC allies,  but was endorsed by Tom Steyer  when it recently voted to add environmental justice to the list of the union’s priorities.   According to the SEIU, climate change disproportionately affects low-income and minority communities where many of its members live, so the union is committing resources to “broadening environmental justice”.  See “Leading US Union SEIU Makes Fighting Climate Change a Campaign Priority” in The Guardian (May 24) .

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