The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Brett Fleishman,, (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


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:

350 is building a future that's just, prosperous, equitable and safe from the effects of the climate crisis. We're an international movement of ordinary people working to end the age of fossil fuels and build a world of community-led renewable energy for all.