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United Electrical Becomes First US Industrial Union to Endorse Green New Deal and Global Climate Strike

The 35,000-member union called the transformative proposal "our best hope to meet the challenge of climate change while creating millions of good union jobs."

Sunrise NYC, a climate activist group, rallies in front of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's office in Midtown Manhattan demanding that he support the Green New Deal. (Photo: Gabriele Holtermann-Gorden/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Embracing the Green New Deal as "our best hope to meet the challenge of climate change while creating millions of good union jobs," the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America (UE) on Thursday became the first national industrial union to endorse the transformative and broadly popular proposal.

With a resolution adopted at the UE national convention in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the 35,000-member union also endorsed the global climate strikes set to take place next month.

"Millions of workers could be employed strengthening our infrastructure, rebuilding our rail and transit systems, converting to renewable energy sources, protecting against the effects of rising temperatures, and in many other areas."
—UE

"Like the transformation of our manufacturing infrastructure and economy that took place during World War II," reads the resolution, "a just and successful transition to a sustainable industrial and manufacturing base will require massive infusion of federal and state resources, coordination between government, industry and labor, and democratic participation of workers through widespread unionization."

"Millions of workers could be employed strengthening our infrastructure, rebuilding our rail and transit systems, converting to renewable energy sources, protecting against the effects of rising temperatures, and in many other areas," the document continues.

UE's support for the Green New Deal comes after the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) endorsed the policy in June, building momentum for a proposal that environmentalists and climate scientists have embraced as a necessary step toward confronting the ecological crisis.

Varshini Prakash, co-founder and executive director of the youth-led Sunrise Movement, emphasized in an address at the UE convention that labor struggles are deeply intertwined with the fight for climate justice.

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"The Green New Deal is an economic vision for the 21st century," said Prakash. "We are forcing a departure from 40 years of corporate control of our government, from wage stagnation, from rising levels of wealth inequality. We are moving towards an economic vision for this country that is a courageous and compassionate vision."

Just days before UE endorsed the Green New Deal, the union also voted to back the 2020 presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who last week unveiled a Green New Deal plan that would aim to create 20 million well-paying union jobs and transition the U.S. to 100 percent renewable energy over a decade.

"When we are in the White House," said Sanders, "we will launch the decade of the Green New Deal, a 10-year mobilization to avert climate catastrophe during which climate change, justice, and equity will be factored into virtually every area of policy."

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