We cannot develop an ecologically-responsible and just economy without considering the consequences for work and employment. But what is the meaning of 'green work' in capitalist societies of endless production and consumption for the purposes of profits? If we scale back on tar sands, fracking, and other dirty energy projects, as we must, workers who lose their jobs will need retraining, temporary income support, and a green energy infrastructure to work in. This will require a whole range of collective investments and decisions.
In their push to halt construction of the Keystone XL and other pipelines in recent years, environmentalists have often put a familiar question to labor: Which side are you on? More often than not, unions have ended up on the other side of the line in the tar sand, backing the oil and gas industry in its efforts to expand the pipeline and drilling projects that are poised to push us past the point of carbon no return.
When unionized oil workers at the Tesoro Golden Eagle plant in Martinez, California walked off the job on February 1 to demand safer working conditions, they received some unexpected company on the picket line. Since the beginning of the strike, which has expanded from nine to eleven refineries nationwide, environmental activists with Communities for a Better Environment have joined members of the United Steelworkers (USW) union for their daily protests outside the plant.
Thousands of oil refinery workers are striking for safer working conditions. Their fight is central to the struggle against climate change.
NGO-led efforts to combat climate change have resulted in decades of failed negotiations, increased fossil-fuel production, and degraded working conditions. The largest oil workers strike in decades — now in its third week — contains within it the seeds of an alternative: class-struggle environmentalism.
It's becoming a familiar story. Another oil train has flown off the rails. Its cargo of crude oil, fracked from the Bakken shale formation out west, burst into flames. The crash occurred Monday amidst a snow storm in Kanawha county, near the town of Boomer. The fire was reportedly still burning this morning, nearly 24 hours after the crash.
PACHECO -- A tanker truck slowed to a halt 10 yards from a group of oil workers, nurses and environmentalists holding signs at the intersection of Arnold Industrial and Solano ways just before noon Tuesday.
The group blocked the tanker's entrance to the Tesoro Golden Refinery, keeping the driver from delivering his product. For 10 minutes, the two sides essentially stared each other down, the driver talking with a representative of the pickets.
SOME 5,000 union members represented by the United Steelworkers (USW) are on strike at 11 refineries in six states, and counting. Workers at BP refineries in Whiting, Indiana, and Toledo, Ohio, joined the strike this week. The union could bring out more than 30,000 workers at 63 refineries plus related oil terminals, pipelines and petrochemical facilities, which would dramatically affect oil production.
In what may seem like an unlikely alliance, environmental groups are throwing their full support behind oil industry workers who on Sunday announced a widespread work stoppage over complaints that Big Oil companies "value production and profit over health and safety."
The strike, which marks the largest national strike of oil workers since 1980, was called by the United Steelworkers Union (USW) after negotiations with Royal Dutch Shell, which is leading the industry-wide bargaining effort, broke down.
With public attention focused on the railroads in a way it hasn’t been for decades, the cross-craft solidarity group Railroad Workers United is seizing the opportunity to teach the general public “railroading 101”—and teach rail workers “environmental politics 101.”