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'Fantastic... Who's Next?' SEIU First National Union to Endorse Green New Deal

"We need to combat climate change while raising standards for all working people."

Members of New York's 1199 SEIU at the 2017 DC Climate March on April 29, 2017.

Members of New York's 1199 SEIU at the 2017 DC Climate March on April 29, 2017. (Photo: Mark Dixon, Flickr)

"Fantastic news!!! Who's next?"

That was progressive writer Naomi Klein's response to news Thursday that the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) endorsed the Green New Deal. The SEIU, one of the largest unions in the country with more than 1.1 million members, is the first national labor union to endorse the proposed legislation, which would radically revamp the U.S. economy in a bid to combat the climate crisis.

The union's international executive board passed the resolution at a Thursday meeting in Minneapolis.

"We need to combat climate change while raising standards for all working people," the union said in a tweet.

SEIU member Charissa Fitzgerald, a certified nursing assistant at Chico, California's Enloe Medical Center and an SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West member, shared her story in the union's statement.

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"I lost my house and all my belongings in the Camp Fire, the worst wildfire in California's history," said Fitzgerald. "Losing everything I've ever known in a matter of one day due to climate change has motivated me to support the Green New Deal."

In her tweet celebrating the news, Klein noted the history of the Green New Deal movement and its connection to the labor movement.

"We have been talking about 'green jobs' for two decades, and both job quality and the planet's health have been shredded," said Klein. "It's time for more national unions to step up and lead the charge for the next economy now!"

In a statement announcing the move, Mary Kay Henry, international president of SEIU, singled out green advocates and said the union's support of the environmental proposal was in part due to the role unions will play in the new economics of the policy. 

"We've been inspired by the fearlessness and courage of the climate change activists whose direct action and bold demands for change have put this issue front and center in the national conversation," Henry said. "The Green New Deal makes unions central to accomplishing the ambitious goal of an environmentally responsible and economically just society."

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