Utility Workers (UWUA) Secretary-Treasurer Gary Ruffner writes about how his union made its voice heard at the climate change talks in Copenhagen, Denmark, where 40 U.S. union members are part of a 400-member global union movement delegation led by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). Read our previous blogs on the climate change talks here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.
Members of the Utility Workers are making their voices heard in Copenhagen. Just a few days after UWUA President Mike Langford unveiled our new energy policy, he spoke on two panels sponsored by the Blue Green Alliance outlining the benefits of a relationship between labor organizations and environmentalists.
The alliance is a coalition of the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council and seven national unions who believe they can achieve much more by working with each other than against each other.
Langford also spoke at a press conference on the necessity of climate legislation in the United States. He told reporters:
Renewable energy, and the green jobs that come along with it, are key to our economic growth. It is essential that in order to lead the world in renewable energy technologies, and create good jobs that support our families and communities, we must look at ways to rebuild and revitalize American manufacturing. We can’t keep doing what we’re doing. We’re just making countries like China rich. That’s not sustainable. We have to create more jobs.
The Blue Green Alliance also sponsored a meeting with members of the U.S. congressional staff where Langford, along with representatives of the alliance and other AFL-CIO affiliated unions, spoke on the importance of climate legislation and the importance of including “just transition” language.
Carl Wood, UWUA director of government and regulatory affairs, continued his role of attending conferences and establishing relationships for the UWUA to promote organizing, job creation, a better environment and other mutually beneficial activities.
Meanwhile, UWUA Secretary-Treasurer Gary Ruffner addressed a meeting of the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers’ Unions (ICEM). Ruffner described the union’s Power for America Training trust, which trains utility workers for traditional utility jobs as well as the new green jobs that will result from climate change legislation.
He also discussed UWUA’s strategic partnership with the Blue Green Alliance to work for legislation that will provide funding for green jobs and transition training for displaced workers in a green environment.