In Spring 2018, the Labor Network for Sustainability and DivestInvest Network jointly released a new guide: Should your union’s pension fund divest from fossil fuels? A guide for trade unionists . The guide begins with an introduction to union pension plans in the U.S., including how they are governed, and the legal and administrative safeguards designed to protect members’ money. It also recounts the role of union pension fund divestment in the South African struggle against Apartheid, describes the current global campaign for divestment from fossil fuels, and how and why unions are participating in that movement. The final section of the guide provides practical guidelines for union divestment campaigns.
Inspiration and a practical example of such a campaign can be found in the article “How New York City Won Divestment from Fossil Fuels”. The article, originally posted in Portside, is written by by Nancy Romer, a member of the Environmental Justice Working Group of the Professional Staff Congress of the City University of New York and an activist in the divestment campaign which led to the January 2018 decision by New York City to divest $5 billion of its pension funds (and to sue ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips).
The Guide and Nancy Romer’s article are available at a new Divest/Invest Hub on the LNS website, with plans for more campaign case studies and sample resolutions to be added. Guides with similar aims have been produced in the U.K.: for public sector unions: Local Government Pension Funds – Divest From Carbon Campaign: A UNISON Guide (January 2018) ; in 2017, Friends of the Earth-U.K. published Briefing: Local government pensions: Fossil fuel divestment and Friends of the Earth- Scotland published Divest Reinvest: Scottish Council Pensions for a Future worth living in . The Public and Commercial Services Union published Divest to Reinvest in 2016.