Over 25 people attended Tuesday evening a presentation and discussion of the Blue-Green Alliance, a partnership between environmentalists and labor unions working for green jobs and environmental stewardship. The alliance consists of 4 national environmental organizations and 11 U.S. unions.
The educational event was hosted by the Laborers’ Union, Local 362, and took place at their hall. Mike Matejka provided context to the discussion and Tom Conway, regional program manager of the Blue Green Alliance, gave the presentation and led the discussion.
Mr. Conway spoke of the BlueGreen Alliance as a fruitful collaboration borne out of the 1999 Seattle protests against the World Trade Organization and similar bodies representative of multinational corporations. Prior to the demonstrations, he said there was little communication between labor union heads and the environmentalist counterparts.
In his presentation Mr. Conway laid out the long-term goals of the alliance’s campaign, Jobs 21. It seeks to establish green jobs, economic stability, and independence from oil with the following program:
—Push for renewable clean energy with tax incentives and loan programs;
—Find consistent funding sources for research and development not occurring in the private sector;
—Pass Renewable Energy Standards of 25% by 2025;
—Revitalize manufacturing with clean energy and advanced transportation;
—Assist companies with green building and/or retooling of existing infrastructure;
—Retrofit schools to make them healthier and more energy efficient;
—Invest in roads and railways;
—Fund public transportation so working people can get to work affordably and efficiently;
—Invest in clean vehicles;
—Modernize water, waste, and natural gas infrastructure;
—Invest in an efficient smart grid to cut down on energy waste;
—Invest in Broadband technology
—Establish a national recycling rate of 75% (current recycling captures only 1/3 of waste);
—Pass a stricter bill on toxic chemicals, opening up European markets with stricter standards;
—Stop attacks on working families and defend collective bargaining, prevailing wage, and health and safety;
—Strength the EPA’s authority to regulate harmful emissions.
After the discussion, a number of issues were brought up by the audience. It was mentioned that the City of Bloomington / Economic Development Corporation project of rehabbing Wildwood Industries should include green building and design. The difficulties encountered between labor unions and environmentalists over the Tar Sands campaign was also discussed, in particular the labor union support for the Keystone Pipeline.
Mr. Conway mentioned that he was in Chicago the night before, participating in Take Back Chicago, and said that 4,000 people had shut down Michigan Avenue. He said that the Tea Party had their turn and now it was our turn.
Community activists also brought up a number of local events occurring this week. Sonny Garcia announced the activities of Occupy BloNo on Saturday and encouraged labor unionists to attend and invite others. Sara Holthaus invited people to a MoveOn.org letter writing campaign for jobs, 10 – 11 am, Saturday, at Heartland Bank. It was also announced that there will be picket at the Sonic Restaurant, near Normal’s Wal-Mart, on Saturday 11 am, for not using union labor in its construction.
For more information on the BlueGreen Alliance, visit www.bluegreenalliance.org.