Originally published at 199SEIU on January 26, 2017.
Largest Healthcare Union in the Nation, 1199SEIU, Calls for Clean Energy Jobs Instead of Dirty Fuel Pipelines
January 26, 2017
“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.
“Not only are pipelines the wrong direction for American workers, they are disastrous for human health, which we know firsthand as healthcare workers. Time and time again, spills from pipelines have contaminated drinking water and land. The process of digging up, transporting, refining and burning dirty fuel is toxic and increases rates of sickness and death from asthma, cancer and other diseases.
“The Dakota Access Pipeline threatens the drinking water of Native Americans, and also defiles sacred cultural lands. After all that indigenous people have been through, the Standing Rock Sioux deserve respect for their land, water and religious values.
“Finally, wasting resources on pipelines and dirty fuel infrastructure worsens climate change, which poses a severe threat to American security and human civilization. Climate change increases the spread of dangerous diseases like Zika, Chikungunya and West Nile; causes droughts, floods, extinctions, fires and superstorms; creates civil unrest, food shortages, war and climate refugees; and has a disproportionate impact on the health and safety of working people and people of color.
“It is a proven fact, not an alternative fact, that burning dirty fuels is causing dangerous, runaway climate change. We must make the transition to a clean energy economy now in order to create millions of good jobs, rebuild the American middle class, and avert catastrophe. We call on people of good conscience throughout our country and our world to join thousands of healthcare workers at the March for Climate, Jobs & Justice in Washington, D.C. on April 29th. Together we can stand up for our vision of a new, just economy for working people with clean water, air and energy.”
-George Gresham, President of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, the largest healthcare union in the nation.