Labor and Climate Under Trump

In an article "How Labor and Climate United Can Trump Trump"Labor Network for Sustainability's Jeremy Brecher says, The coming of the Trump regime presents organized labor with a dilemma. On the one hand, Trump's infrastructure program and military build-up promise to provide jobs for some union workers; his proposals to end trade deals and put tariffs on manufacturing imports align with long-standing labor opposition to pro-corporate globalization.
 
On the other hand, "Trump and his Republican allies in Congress propose tax, budget, and social welfare policies that will directly impoverish most workers; his cabinet appointees are proven enemies of organized labor and the rights of workers; legislation, executive policy, and supreme court appointments" are likely to lead to catastrophic results for organized labor. Brecher concludes,
 
Trump's agenda is no less than an assault on the planet and its people. The struggle against Trump and Trumpism is nothing less than the defense of society - what movements of resistance to tyranny elsewhere have called Social Self-Defense. Social Self-Defense is the protection of that which makes our life together on earth possible. It includes the protection of the human rights of all people; protection of the conditions of our earth and its climate that make our life possible; the constitutional principle that all government must be accountable to law; and global cooperation to provide a secure future for people and planet.
 
The linked defense of the workers and the climate lie at the core of Social Self-Defense against the Trump and Trumpism. By unifying our forces, demonstrating our collective strength, and clarifying what we want and need, it can also help create the kind of movement that can not only defeat Trump and Trumpism, but bring about the just transition we need to establish a worker- and climate-friendly society.

Labor and Pipelines

When President Trump ordered that the way be cleared for work on the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, SEIU1199, America's largest healthcare union, responded with a call for "Clean Energy Jobs Instead of Dirty Fuel Pipelines."

As union members, we know that the #1 priority for working Americans is good jobs and economic progress. That is one of the major reasons why we strongly oppose the construction of any dirty fuel pipelines, including Dakota Access and Keystone XL. Oil, coal and gas are relics of the old economy that create few permanent jobs while costing Americans billions of dollars related to health problems from pollution and clean-ups from spills.
 
On the other hand, clean energy from solar, wind and wave power would create millions of good jobs without toxic pollution. We need massive public and private investment in clean energy manufacturing, construction, and innovation to rebuild the American middle class. Right now, other countries are taking leadership in the global clean energy market, building solar panels and wind turbines and installing them around the world in the absence of American initiative. America should be leading the global clean energy economy, but instead we are giving away billions to oil, coal and gas companies and American workers are being left behind.

A lively debate is now developing over how organized labor should relate to the Trump presidency, and specifically to his attacks on climate protection. The day after Trump announced his authorization to go ahead with the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines, General President Terry O'Sullivan of the Laborers union LIUNA issued a statement that "It is Finally Beginning to Feel Like a New Day for America's Working Class."

Retired Steelworkers representative Len Shindel rejoined that "Building Trades Leadership Undercuts Activists."
Writer Naomi Klein chimed in with a New York Times op ed criticizing "Labor Leaders Cheap Deal with Trump"
Sean Sweeney of the Trade Unions for Energy Democracy described the support of some union officials for Trump policies as "Pandering to the Predator."
Historian Erik Loomis wrote in the New Republic, "By embracing Donald Trump, the building trades are selling out the movement for greater equality for all working people."
Ruth Needleman asked, "Is It Time for the AFL and the CIO to Part Ways Again?"

This debate is likely to be important for the future of organized labor in the United States - and for the world's climate.