Why Environmentalists and the Labor Movement Must Work Together to End the Climate Crisis

Labor Day is a day to celebrate the achievements of US workers. Its history is not a peaceful one. This year, I'm reflecting on that history and the connections between workers' struggle for respect, and the ongoing struggle to prevent the worst harms of the climate crisis. There's a clear common ground between both: the need for people to come together to overcome the power of profit-seeking corporations.

This Labor Day, we're looking to the future. We're finding new ways to ensure that the fight for a safe climate leaves nobody behind, and in fact restores and repairs past injustices by investing in communities that have been discriminated against and disinvested in for generations. The "Justice 40" framework, for example, ensures that federal spending will target disadvantaged communities. And new partnerships between labor unions and environmental organizations like the Sierra Club are finding creative ways to ensure the clean energy economy is powered by high-paying union jobs available to all, regardless of their race or gender.

Right now, record-breaking wildfires are burning across the west. Parts of Louisiana and Mississippi may be without power for weeks in the wake of Hurricane Ida. The climate crisis is here, and is threatening lives right now.

At the same time, working people are struggling to make ends meet. Decades of right-wing attacks on unions have eroded wages and working conditions. Nearly 40 percent of Americans don’t have enough saved to cover an unexpected $400 expense—and now hundreds of thousands of working people are being asked to bear the cost of evacuation and hotel stays in the wake of climate disaster.

Environmentalists and working people can join together to build an economy that works for all of us—and our planet. In fact, doing so might be our best hope of overcoming the entrenched power of the megacorporations that suck workers and the planet dry.

We have a planet to win, so let’s get started. Add your name and voice your support for workers and the environment.