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.”
On Labor Day 1940, American workers faced the aftermath of the Great Depression, with mass unemployment persisting and a divided labor movement facing a renewed counterattack from corporate America. They were barely becoming aware of an even greater threat, one that would determine the future of their country and their labor movement: the threat of Nazi armies mobilizing for war.
A major climate change march in New York September 21 may be a tipping point for labor movement participation in global warming activism.
Climate initiatives are still controversial in the labor movement. But dozens of unions in New York, jarred by memories of Superstorm Sandy, have lined up to join the People’s Climate March, planned to coincide with a United Nations summit that will draw world leaders to the city.