Originally published in the Eugene Weekly, April 24, 2014 by Kevin Sullivan
Climate Change Unites Unions and Enviros
ARTICLE | | BY KEVIN SULLIVAN
Labor unions have for years been pitted against conservationists in a jobs-versus-the-environment conflict. But now, a greater threat to the planet has paired members of the rival movements in a fight against a greater evil: global climate change.
The Global Climate Convergence, a worldwide 10-day “education and direct action campaign” that started on Earth Day (April 22) and ends on May Day (May 1), is the first annual action that fuses several different movements into one common mega-movement with multiple goals, particularly stopping climate change. Lauren Regan, executive director of the Civil Liberties Defense Center, says to keep in mind that it’s not just labor unions and environmentalists that have joined the movement. Many others including immigrants and students have joined the cause as well.
Some issues, such as the Keystone XL pipeline, have left unionists and environmentalists at odds, with one group touting jobs and the other pointing to climate disaster. “It’s my hope to see what we really have in common,” Regan says. “At the community level we are starting to put that movement together.”
Shelley Pineo-Jensen, the chapter chair of the Eugene-Springfield Solidarity Network Jobs with Justice, says that unions will have a big presence with the climate convergence. The UO’s Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation is hosting a May Day march, which starts on campus, with SEIU Local 49, a service employee union and others participating. May Day is an internationally recognized (though not in the U.S.) labor holiday. “Everyday union members are just as aware of climate change as anyone else,” Pineo-Jensen says.
The May Day march is just one of many events for the community to take part in during the 10 days of action. There will also be a free, family-friendly party on April 26. Musicians, guest speakers and dancers from all the different movements will be showcased during the event. The party will be preceded by the “Awakening the Dreamer” symposium held at Lane Community College on April 25 and 26.
Co-founder of the Eugene 350.org chapter Mary DeMocker says she is interested in finding a “common ground” for fighting climate change.
“I think, to be honest, it’s really important to have different organizations that concern different people,” DeMocker says.
The party for the Global Climate Convergence campaign will be held from 6 to 10 pm Saturday, April 26, at 450 W. 3rd Ave. At 11:15 am Sunday, April 27, UO law professor Mary Wood will speak on “Nature’s Trust and the Heart of Humanity” at the UO’s EMU amphitheater. The GTFF march will start at Prince Lucien Campbell Hall at the UO starting at noon on May 1. For a full listing of events in Eugene and across the world go to globalclimateconvergence.org.