Online Conversation on Labor and the Green New Deal

Join Our Online Conversation on
Labor and the Green New Deal
with Sean Sweeney, Martha Hawthorne, and Howard Ehrman

The conversation will take place on Zoom.  You can join us from your computer, laptop, smartphone, or ordinary phone.  See instructions and suggested readings below.

Saturday, Apr 20, 2019

9 AM PDT / 10 AM MDT / 11 AM CDT / 12 Noon EDT

Working people and labor organizations have a vital role to play in forestalling climate disaster.  We cannot achieve the radical societal transformations that are needed without a powerful solidarity-infused working class movement demanding major changes.  General strikes and other mass actions set the stage for the New Deal in the 20th century.  They are our only hope for a Green New Deal that truly reverses global warming and economic injustice in the 21st.  (This time around, we must insist upon moving from capitalism to democracy.) The stakes could not be higher.

Our speakers will speak to the following questions:

  • What will it take to build a working class movement to fight for effective action on climate?
  • How can organizing around the Green New Deal fit in?
  • What are Labor’s demands for a Green New Deal?

There will then be ample opportunity for people on the call to join the discussion.


How to Join the Zoom Meeting

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Suggested Readings

Sean Sweeney, The Green New Deal’s Magical Realism
Martha Hawthorne, SF Labor Council Endorses the Green New Deal
SF Labor Council, A Green New Deal Must Have Strong Labor and
Community Provisions

Jane McAlevey, Organizing to Win a Green New Deal
Nancy Romer, Labor Can Back a Green New Deal
Alameda County Labor Convergence on Climate (2019), Handouts
New Mexico Conference (1996), Jemez Principles for Democratic Organizing
Delegates to the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit (1991), Principles of Environmental Justice

Michael Eisenscher, An “Inconvenient Truth” that Al Gore Missed that is Key to Dealing with Climate Change





About Our Presenters


Sean Sweeney is director of the International Program for Labor, Climate and Environment at the Murphy Institute, City University of New York, and coordinator of Trade Unions for Energy Democracy (TUED).  TUED is a global, multi-sector initiative to advance democratic direction and control of energy in a way that promotes solutions to the climate crisis, energy poverty, the degradation of both land and people, and responds to the attacks on workers’ rights and protections.

Over 65 trade union bodies currently participate in TUED, including 4 Global Union Federations, 3 regional organizations, and 8 national centers. There are also 10 allied policy, academic and advocacy organizations. Unions currently participating in TUED represent workers in 23 countries across the globe.

Sean is the principal author of many research articles on transition of energy resources and distribution.

Martha Hawthorne chairs the Climate Workgroup of Service Employees International Union 1021. She has been a delegate to the San Francisco Labor Council as a rank-and-file union activist for 40 plus years in HERE Local 2 and SEIU 1021. She worked as an RN for 28 years at the San Francisco Dept of Public Health, serving as a shop steward and member of her union’s RN bargaining team. In 2015, Martha attended COP 21 Paris as a representative of SEIU 1021 and as a member of the Trade Unions for Energy Democracy delegation. She is active in Labor Network for Sustainability and one of the founders of Labor Rise for Climate, Jobs, Justice, and Peace.

Martha is also an accomplished musician who performs with Duo Pizzicato, the Bernal Hillbillies, and the Loud Ladies Foot Patrol.


Howard Ehrman, MD, MPH works full-time on climate change and abolishing capitalism for his 4 beautiful grandchildren,ages 1, 10, 14, and 20.  He was born & raised on Chicago’s Southside, attended Chicago public schools; and is the grandson of a Middle Eastern slave in Romania who escaped and taught him farming.  Howard’s worked at a Ford auto assembly plant, Chicago & in UAW. 

Howard has been a community & union organizer since 1961; studied with Professor Barry Commoner  at Washington University, St. Louis, 1965-1968; organized State of Illinois & Chicago City Workers with AFSCME: 1969-1981; and co-founded the Rainbow Coalition Health & Free Clinic Network with Illinois Black Panther Party Deputy Health Minister Ronald “Doc” Satchell, 1969-1972, and also organized with the Venceremos Brigade in those same years. 

Howard became a  member of Black Workers Congress (originally part of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, then Workers Congress) Marxist Leninist 1972-1981;  Chicago Department of Health Assistant Commissioner 1985-1991; co-founder of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization: 1994-2013; Chicago Cuba Coalition Member: 2015-Present.  He is a mostly retired assistant professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine & School of Public Health where he has taught family medicine, occupational medicine, and environmental health


Additional Readings

For readers eager to take a deeper dive into the issues, here are links to some of the bulletins and working papers published by Trade Unions for Energy Democracy

TUED Global Forum: The “Yellow Vests”: What’s Happening in France?

Trade Unions & Just Transition: The Search for a Transformative Politics

Preparing a Public Pathway: Confronting the Investment Crisis in Renewable Energy

Hard Facts About Coal: Why Trade Unions Should Re-evaluate Support for CCS

Carbon Markets After Paris welcomes you!

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