How to lead a workplace discussion on climate change

CUPE LOGOIn June, the National Environment program of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE/SCFP) shared online the materials for a workshop on How to lead a workplace discussion on Climate Change .  The materials consist of a 28-slide PowerPoint presentation, Speaking notes and Tips for facilitators, in English and French versions.   It provides labour-focused information and interactive discussion tools on “how climate change is affecting our planet, our communities and our economy”, and although the content is specific to CUPE – presenting examples from CUPE jobs and CUPE  policy statements, it offers an excellent model for other unions.

CUPE has a long history of climate change related educational materials, including: Healthy, Clean & GREEN: A Workers’ Action Guide to a Greener Workplace (2015),     which encourages workplace behaviours such as waste reduction, environmental committees and environmental audits; How to form a workplace environment Committee ;  and  an online, interactive Eco-audit tool  to workers score their workplace behaviours related to energy conservation, recycling, water use, cleaning products, transportation, and workplace meetings. A very early document was the CUPE Green Bargaining Guide , published in 2008 and which provided examples of collective agreement language on many issues, including conservation, commuting, and establishing an environment committee .  Most of these examples have also been incorporated in the ACW Green Collective Agreements database, here.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE/SCFP) is Canada’s largest union, with over 650,000 members in every province, representing workers in health care, emergency services, education, early learning and child care, municipalities, social services, libraries, utilities, transportation, airlines and more.   All CUPE materials are available in English or French.

Toronto’s Greenprint advocates a network of union environmental advocates

In the newly –published Greenprint for Greater Toronto  written by President John Cartwright, the Metro Toronto and York District Labour Council provides a concise and comprehensive overview of  what has been done and what needs to be done to answer climate challenges, with specific examples from Toronto.  The report recognizes that workplaces contribute significant greenhouse gas emissions, and though there are many examples of dramatic workplace improvements around energy use, waste reduction and green procurement in the workplace, there remains much to do.  “The Labour Council is proposing to establish a network of environmental advocates to power the climate change agenda both within workplaces and in society as a whole.”  Environmental representatives “would function in much the same manner as health and safety reps do under current Ontario legislation”, and based on existing models in Canada and Britain, could be involved in “waste audits; supply chain reviews; reviews of the movement of materials; identifying ways to re-use excess energy or heat; suggesting improvements around staff commuting.”   The Greenprint document was promised, and many of the ideas sketched out, in an earlier  Labour Council document:  Labour and Climate Change Statement , January 7th, 2016 : The road did not end in Paris, but goes through it.   To see collective agreement language already achieved to form workplace environment committees and representatives in Canada, go to the ACW database here  . To see British examples, see Go Green at Work: A handbook for union green representatives, published by the Trades Union Congress in 2010 .

CUPE Provides a New Guide for Greener Workplaces

The Canadian Union of Public Employees, in advance of Earth Day in April 2015, has released Healthy Clean and Green: A Worker’s Action Guide to a Greener Workplace. CUPE answers the basic question, “Is climate change a union issue?” and then focuses on workplace actions and solutions, with examples and tips to improve energy efficiency, recycling and reduction of resources, worker education, and workplace environment committees. The book also describes the LEED features of the CUPE National Headquarters in Ottawa. To further encourage greening activities, the union announced the 2015 CUPE Green Workplace Contest, with a deadline of May 2015.