Unions Add Voice In Support Of California Thermal Coal Divestment

For Immediate Release


Brett Fleishman, 350.org, (970) 376-5041

Unions Add Voice In Support Of California Thermal Coal Divestment

SEIU Local 1000 and the California Faculty Association endorse S.B. 185

CALIFORNIA - Two of the largest unions in California, SEIU Local 1000 and the California Faculty Association (CFA), have come out in support of S.B. 185 just one week after the bill passed through the State Senate. The bill calls for the two largest pension funds in the U.S., CalSTRS and CalPERS, to divest from thermal coal.

SEIU Local 1000, representing over 95,000 working men and women serving the State of California, supports the passage of SB 185 Public Retirement Systems: Public Divestiture of Thermal Coal Companies Act.

“SB 185 is a step forward, not only toward combating the negative environmental and health impacts caused by the use of coal, but also to protect the financial investments working families have made into their retirement program,” said Vianey Nunez, a member of SEIU Local 1000. “SEIU Local 1000 will continue to combat the degradation of our environment as the result of greenhouse gas emissions - the brunt of which is shouldered by working men, women and their families.”

The endorsement of these influential unions is accompanied by a resolution from the California Democratic Party, as well as by a joint letter from twelve health organizations across the state, including the American Lung Association and the Public Health Institute. Both the resolution and the letter call for additional divestment from oil and gas companies, indicating S.B. 185 as a crucial first step for climate action.

“As union members, we must be concerned about the financial health of the pension funds we contribute to and rely upon for our retirement,” said Kevin Wehr, a Professor of Sociology at California State University, Sacramento as well as the CFA Capitol Chapter President. “Fossil fuel companies have coal, gas, and oil reserves in the ground, but most of these assets will have to be unburned if the world is going to address climate change. These companies are now viewed as overvalued, and simply not a good investment."

The bill is currently in first round committee hearings in the California State Assembly. Committee members will either assign the bill to the appropriate committee for review, or reject the bill and fail to live up to California’s reputation as a climate leader.

The campaign for S.B. 185 is part of a growing worldwide push to divest the financial holdings of universities, religious institutions, pension funds, and other investors from fossil fuel companies. For more information on S.B. 185, visit: http://focus.senate.ca.gov/climate.


350 is the red line for human beings, the most important number on the planet. The most recent science tells us that unless we can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, we will cause huge and irreversible damage to the earth. But solutions exist. All around the world, a movement is building to take on the climate crisis, to get humanity out of the danger zone and below 350. This movement is massive, it is diverse, and it is visionary. We are activists, scholars, and scientists. We are leaders in our businesses, our churches, our governments, and our schools. We are clean energy advocates, forward-thinking politicians, and fearless revolutionaries. And we are united around the world, driven to make our planet livable for all who come after us.

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