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CT AFL-CIO Aims for Green Jobs, Climate Change

LEDYARD, CT – Calling for “bold action” to achieve clean energy  economy for green jobs and to fight climate change, the Connecticut AFL-CIO on Friday approved a resolution affirming that “climate change poses a direct threat to the well being of the lives and livelihoods of working people in Connecticut, the United States, and the world.”

The group said it’s hoping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to a scientifically safe level.

By approving this resolution during its annual convention held at the MGM Grand Hotel at Foxwoods, the CT AFL-CIO renewed its support for the CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs, a collaborative effort launched in 2012 with the Inter-religious Eco-Justice Network, organizers said.

The AFL-CIO’s vote comes after President Barack Obama in June called for courage “to act before it’s too late to save the planet.”

He cited signs of a gloomy reality: the 12 warmest years in recorded history have all come in the last 15 years.  Additionally,  temperatures in some areas of the ocean reached record highs in 2012, and ice in the Arctic shrank to its smallest size on record — faster than most models had predicted it would.

“These are facts,” he said. “So the question now is whether we will have the courage to act before it’s too late.  And how we answer will have a profound impact on the world that we leave behind not just to you, but to your children and to your grandchildren.”

In Connecticut and other parts of the Northeast,  states can expect more climate change related heat waves – with significantly more days above 90oF – and flooding from sea level rise and extreme precipitation events.    There is $2.3 trillion of insured coastal property at risk in New York State alone.  Northeasterners are already experiencing increased heavy precipitation.

Recent incidents provide a reminder of the impacts to our public health and costs due to extreme weather in Connecticut.  Although we cannot say that climate change is responsible for any individual event, climate change is already increasing our risks from these events, according to reports.

Ø  Tropical Storm Irene ravaged the East Coast in 2011, requiring over $16 million in federal assistance for Connecticut.

Ø  The US Department of Agriculture declared four counties as natural disaster areas after above normal temperatures in February-April 2010 affected maple sap production, resulting in losses for hundreds of farmers.

Ø   In 2010, there were 1964 cases of Lyme disease in the state.

Jeremy Brecher, CT-based historian and staff member of the national organization Labor Network for Sustainability, praised the CT AFL-CIO’s action:  “As the latest science paints a devastating picture of the impact of global climate change, and as Connecticut suffers serial devastation from climate-change related extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy, organized labor here in our state is taking a crucial stand for climate protection.  Too often, labor and its allies have been divided by the false opposition between jobs and the environment.  With the Connecticut AFL-CIO’s resolution on climate change, labor is recognizing that converting Connecticut to a climate-safe economy can be a crucial way to fix our jobs crisis as well as our climate crisis.”

Also, by providing opportunities for constituencies that have often disagreed on environmental issues to engage in dialogue, identify areas of common ground and embrace their diversity as a source of power, the Roundtable has played a constructive role in helping to shape the state’s energy policy, he said.

Organizers said that the roundtable on climate and jobs helps to strengthen the collaboration among Connecticut’s labor leaders, community organizations, environmentalists, and religious communities in advocating for state policies that are environmentally sustainable and produce good-paying jobs.

John Harrity, Director of GrowJobsCT and President of the CT State Council of Machinists, which introduced the resolution, expressed his satisfaction with the Convention’s action: “Here in Connecticut, we have a great vision for a sustainable, renewable energy future, creating jobs while improving our environment and facing the challenge of climate change. With this resolution, the state’s labor movement has affirmed our commitment to continue providing leadership to the Roundtable on Climate and Jobs.”


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