Since Earth Day to May Day 2017 we have seen disastrous repeals of protections for the planet in this country and continued climate consequences detrimental to the entire global community, but we have also seen powerful strike actions connecting our struggles and showing us what organized grassroots democracy powered by the people can do.
Climate Democracy in Action! is a set of activities built to be used in conjunction with each other for several hours worth of climate democracy movement building with students in grades 4 – 5, meant to help inspire interest and facilitate learning around grassroots democratic action and how kids can be active leaders and participants in the fight against climate chaos. Motivated teachers can use these activities as a framework for allowing students to choose an action that could be carried out for Earth Day.
On April 22,1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.
Most people living in the United States know little about the International Workers’ Day of May Day. For many others there is an assumption that it is a holiday celebrated in state communist countries like Cuba or the former Soviet Union. Most Americans don’t realize that May Day has its origins here in this country and is as “American” as baseball and apple pie, and stemmed from the pre-Christian holiday of Beltane, a celebration of rebirth and fertility.
The Labor Leading on Climate Initiative advances knowledge, policies, and practices to enhance the role of labor and working people in addressing the environmental and climate crises. The initiative’s efforts focus on building a truly sustainable society and economy.
Since 2009, Oklahoma has cut more of its state education funding than any other state in the country, cutting more than $192m since 2009 according to a report released by the Oklahoma Policy Institute.
The cuts came after the state lost more than a quarter of its operating budget because of a series of cuts to the state’s oil and natural gas production tax and personal income taxes initiated in the mid-2000s. While neighboring Texas has an effective taxation rate of 8% on oil and natural gas, Oklahoma’s tax rate sits at a mere 3.2%.
If it were not for the tax cuts on natural gas and oil as well as personal income taxes, the Oklahoma Policy Institute estimates that the state would have an additional $356m to spend on K-12 (primary and high school) education as well as an additional $238m to spend on higher education.
French rail unions have launched three months of strike action in a showdown with Emmanuel Macron, but their capacity to sustain it will depend as much on the durability of their and their workers’ finances as on amassing political capital.
“The myth that the environment movement is the preserve of the do-gooding middle class must be exploded. It is, in fact, the workers who are most affected by the deterioration of the environment and it is therefore up to the trade union movement to give it a higher priority to fighting to improve it.” — Builders’ Labourers Federation Secretary Jack Mundey.
This week, the Supreme Court of the United States opened hearings on Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31, a direct challenge to the right of public sector workers to engage in collective bargaining. Close observers of the court expect an anti-union ruling, and for this reason, Jobs with Justice, AFSCME, and others preemptively mobilized thousands of workers across the United States in rallying for union rights.
Labor organizers are preparing for the worst, but what does the worst look like?
The number of major work stoppages involving 1,000 or more strikers dropped to seven last year from 15 in 2016 — the second lowest in Labor Department data going back to 1947. The total number of workers hitting the picket lines dropped to 25,000 last year, accounting for total of 440,000 idle days.
Last year’s biggest private sector strike, based on days idle, pitted the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers against Charter Communications, Inc., the government said. In the public sector, the largest strike was against the City of Oakland, California by the Service Employees International Union Local 1021 and the International Technical and Professional Engineers Local 21.
Even the workplace has to adapt to the warming world. As climate change creates more intense storms, companies have started preparing for work disruptions due to extreme weather.
In a sign of the times, Fog Creek, a software company based in New York City, recently announced it would provide up to five days of paid “climate leave” for employees who can’t work because of extreme weather events. If there’s a declared state of emergency, the company will give affected employees even more time.
“New York State can act now to protect New Yorkers from the worst impacts of climate change while also addressing growing economic inequality. An ambitious and audacious climate jobs agenda creates good, high-road jobs for communities across the state and drastically reduces greenhouse gas pollution. By adopting a climate jobs agenda, New York can lead the country and chart the way to a low-carbon, equitable economy.”