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Because 'Solidarity Is Key,' Labor Leaders Amplify Call for Peoples Climate March

'We must increase economic opportunity, protect and improve public health, and address, not ignore, the problems being caused by climate change.' —Chris Shelton, Communications Workers of America

 A crowd marches through the streets of New York City during the 2014 Peoples Climate March. (Photo: Michael O'Brien/flickr/cc)

Days before the Peoples Climate March, a number of labor leaders are helping to amplify the mobilization, joining the chorus demanding an "economic policy that works for working people and the planet."

Among those releasing a statement on Wednesday is Mary Kay Henry, international president of Service Employees International Union (SEIU), who called for holding "corporate polluters" accountable.

"Every day SEIU members and our communities experience the impact of toxic pollution in our air and water and the catastrophic impacts from climate change that are made worse from this pollution. We march because we are on the frontlines. As working people, people of color, and immigrants, we march because our families are disproportionately hardest hit by pollution and climate change's impacts. We march because as service and care workers we are on the frontlines of caring for and responding to impacted families and communities," she stated.

"We march because it's time to hold corporate polluters who wreak havoc on our communities accountable to us. We march because it is time to hold self-interested politicians who rig the rules to put corporate polluters before working people accountable. We march because our families, our health, and our future depend on it," Henry continued.

Added Communications Workers of America (CWA) president Chris Shelton: "We must increase economic opportunity, protect and improve public health, and address, not ignore, the problems being caused by climate change. CWA members are committed to this fight."

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"The solidarity that exists between all of us is the key to having a strong, fair economy and a clean, safe environment," said Kim Glas, executive director of BlueGreen Alliance, a coalition of labor unions and environmental groups . "We can tackle climate change in a way that will ensure all Americans have the opportunity to prosper with quality jobs and live in neighborhoods where they can breathe their air and drink their water. Together we will build a clean economy that leaves no one behind."

Such intersectionality was part of the climate march's initial call, and the April 29 mobilization itself is dubbed "March for climate, jobs, and justice." Indeed, a call-to-action lists wide-ranging motivations for the march: 

  • Advance solutions to the climate crisis rooted in racial, social, and economic justice, and committed to protecting front-line communities and workers.
  • Protect our right to clean air, water, land, healthy communities, and a world at peace.
  • Immediately stop attacks on immigrants, communities of color, indigenous and tribal people and lands and workers.
  • Ensure public funds and investments create good paying jobs that provide a family-sustaining wage and benefits and preserve workers' rights, including the right to unionize.
  • Fund investments in our communities, people, and environment to transition to a new clean and renewable energy economy that works for all, not an economy that feeds the machinery of war.
  • Protect our basic rights to a free press, protest, and free speech.

Playwright and V-Day founder Eve Ensler recently spoke to the intertwined issues, writing in an op-ed at the Guardian: "Every struggle we have—women's liberation, racial justice, economic inequality, immigration rights, gender rights, disability rights—happens on the Earth, because of the Earth."

"So that's why I am rising on April 29 with the climate march. Let our passion and fight for our mother be the energy and trajectory that fuels us and binds us to a larger struggle to end and transform this deadly and exploitative mindset," Enser urged.

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