Mark Gordienko, Steve Hunt, Brian Cochrane and Tom Sigurdson, Vancouver Sun, November 27, 2013
Our unions’ members are responsible for mining and transporting metallurgical coal from British Columbia to markets overseas. So we welcome the positive Environmental Impact Assessment released Nov. 18 by Port Metro Vancouver on the proposed Fraser Surrey Docks expansion. The study, by experts such as Dr. Leonard Ritter, Professor Emeritus of Toxicology at the University of Guelph’s School of Environmental Sciences, shows that many complaints by environmental groups and others are misinformed or exaggerated.
What is working class culture? This question arose as part of a conversation about convincing members of Canada’s newest union, Unifor, to make saving the planet from climate change a priority. “You’ll run up against working class culture,” said a friend who considers himself an anarchist. “What do you mean?” I responded. “Consumerism. High paying jobs with lots of overtime to buy ever more stuff, two cars, a big house in the suburbs with NASCAR and hockey on the two big screens in the basement, plus Housewives of Vancouver on the TV in the kitchen,” he said.
How labour will change — and it is already changing — “depends on what climate you are in, (what) sector you are in, but also what actions are being taken by government in terms of regulating and by work groups like unions in terms of what they negotiate collectively for their workers,” she said. A warmer planet directly affects postal workers, landscape workers, construction and sanitation workers, “and that means they need different kind of protection,” says Lipsig-Mummé. “These jobs will have to be done radically differently.”
In a November 27 op-ed to the Vancouver Sun, union representatives lumped B.C. metallurgical coal together with U.S. thermal coal and suggested that if you are against one, you are against both. Denial of the FSD coal terminal proposal won’t hurt any existing coal jobs held by union members. None. Metallurgical coal, used to make steel, may have a role in the post carbon economy for the manufacture of new infrastructure. Thermal coal has no role in the future. Why mislead the public into thinking they are one and the same thing?
By Mike Treen, national director of the Unite union (New Zealand) December 2, 2013 -- Daily Blog, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- The continuing pretense that world governments will do anything about climate change was exposed once more at the latest round of climate negotiations held in Poland November 11-22. This was the 19th round of annual negotiations. It is 21 years since the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992. Emissions are 60-70% higher than they were then. Global warming has proceeded at an accelerating pace.
When Anthony Goytia sits down with his wife and three children for Thanksgiving dinner in East Los Angeles, he's going to be chewing out of one side of his mouth. With every bite he takes of his meal, provided by a local food pantry, he will be thinking of his employer. Anthony makes about $12,000 a year working nearly full-time as an “associate” for Walmart. With worldwide revenues totaling $443.9 billion in 2012, Walmart tops the Fortune 500 list, yet Anthony can't afford the $20-a-month premiums on the insurance plan Walmart provides.
With an election coming this spring, environmental groups, unions and other provincial organizations are pushing to get the issue of climate change on the political agenda. Judging by what happened during the U.S. presidential election, that is going to be a challenge, says Marc Lee, co-director of the Climate Justice Project, which is run by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. But he and a lot of others think it can be done. More than 50 organizations – including the BC Teachers’ Federation, Pembina Institute, Union of B.C.
One would have hoped that Canada's newest and largest private sector union – UNIFOR, made up of the former Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) and Communications, Energy and Paperworkers (CEP) unions – would have been out front in the growing movement against Enbridge's Line 9 pipeline reversal. This key new organization of Canada's working-class needs to join First Nations, environmental activists, young people, Occupy veterans, other unionists and working people in communities across Ontario in organizing to demand that Line 9 be stopped.
Rabble.ca published an article earlier this week by Toronto writer and climate activist Jesse McLlaren that looks ahead to next week's convention of the Ontario Federation of Labour and an anticipated debate over the proposed ‘reversal’ of the Line 9 pipeline in the province. Enbridge Inc wants the line to carry Alberta tar sands bitumen to refineries in Montreal and possibly to the Atlantic coast and export markets. Presently, the line runs across southern Ontario, including through the city of Toronto.
Unifor, Canada's largest energy union, is calling for a Canada-wide moratorium on all new oil and gas fracking. Already the provinces of Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador have introduced moratoriums on fracking. Nova Scotia has banned fracking while undertaking a review. Unifor is now pushing for a national moratorium. Unifor is raising concerns about the safety and environmental risks associated with fracking as well as the lack of informed consent by First Nations about fracking activities on traditional lands.