Cornell University

Cornell Global Labor Institute

16 East 34th Street, 4th Floor, 212-340-2840

A North American Labor Assembly on Climate Crisis


Cornell GLI Conference on Unions and Global Warming

The Cornell ILR School's Global Labor Institute convened perhaps the largest ever meeting of trade union leaders and environmentalists at "The North American Labor Assembly on Climate Crisis" in New York City on May 7th and 8th, 2007. The meeting was sponsored by 10 major unions and attended by more than 200 trade unionists from the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean region, as well as 50 trade unionists situated in other regions of the world. Representatives from the energy policy community and environmental organizations took the numbers of attendees past 350.

Climate Change Conference The gathering was hosted and addressed by ILR alumn Randi Weingarten who is president of the United Federation of Teachers. Senator Bernie Sanders (Vermont) made an impassioned plea for decisive action, and Sierra Club leader Carl Pope urged Congress to do more to fight greenhouse gas emissions. Steelworkers president Leo Gerard, representing 1.2 million workers in the U.S. and Canada, explained why his union was taking climate change very seriously. "We are an environmental union," said Gerard. We understand that it's not a case of jobs versus the environment. The science is clear: it's either both, or neither."

Leo Gerard speaking at the Climate Change ConferenceThe conference addressed energy alternatives, job creation, policy option and building stronger ties between the labor and environmental movements here and abroad.

"It was important for Cornell ILR to organize this event. Climate change will have a profound effect on the world of work in the years ahead, and unions have a special role to play in making sure that the transition to clean energy happens quickly and in a way that creates good jobs," Jill Kubit, the GLI's Assistant Director added.  ILR's Dean, Harry C. Katz, opened the 2-day conference with a particular welcome to the large international delegation.