Cornell University

Cornell Global Labor Institute

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

Sustainable Transportation Projects

Featured: New Report Maps Labor's Route to a New Transportation System

The U.S. transportation sector currently faces a number of problems. Investment in transportation infrastructure is sorely needed; U.S. bridges, roads and transit systems have crumbled into disrepair. Transit ridership levels are the highest since World War II, yet more than 70% of local transit agencies have cut service, increased fares or proposed privatization of transportation systems. Greenhouse gas emissions are rising faster from the transportation sector than any other economic sector, particularly from transport sectors that are the least regulated and least unionized, like trucking and aviation.

Cornell GLI’s new report on transportation, Labor’s Route to a New Transportation System: How Federal Transportation Policy Can Create Good Jobs, First-Rate Mobility, and Environmentally Sustainable Communities, proposes key reforms to U.S. transportation policy that can help address the jobs crisis, improve working families’ mobility, rebuild and expand the public sector, and reduce the transport sector’s contribution to air pollution and climate instability. The U.S. needs a new national vision for an efficient, safe and sustainable transportation system, on a scale comparable to the largest single public works project in American history – the Interstate Highway System. Pursuing this vision is essential to workers’ well-being, and is the concern of all U.S. unions, not just transport unions.

Download the report.

Executive Summary

Sumario Ejecutivo- Español

The Transportation Policy Working Group

The Transportation Policy Working Group consists of high level representatives from labor unions in transport and transport-related sectors and key policy organizations like Blue Green Alliance, Embarq- the World Resources Institute for Sustainable Transport, Environment America, League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council, Transportation 4 America, Sierra Club, and Urban Habitat, among others. Through targeted outreach and education, policy group meetings, and policy briefs and webinars, the Working Group engages labor unions in the public policy discussion around developing sustainable transportation systems that provide equitable, accessible, low-carbon and safe transportation options for U.S. residents and communities.

The goal for the Working Group is to assist both individual unions and the broader labor movement in understanding and analyzing federal transportation policy in order to advocate more effectivelya more environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable U.S. transportation system. This goal entails:

  • Working with union leadership to better understand the challenges and opportunities that transportation policy reform presents.
  • Establishing long-lasting and durable, relationships among unions and between unions and transportation policy organizations by creating a forum with structured policy discussions.
  • Assisting unions and transportation policy organizations in the development of messaging and mobilization strategies around federal transportation policy reform that speakers to unions, workers, and their communities.

For more information about this project, contact Lara Skinner, Associate Director of Research at 212.340.2884 or

International Transport Workers' Federation Climate Policy

In Fall 2009, Cornell GLI began assisting the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) in developing a policy document on climate protection. The ITF is a global trade union federation that represents the interests of transport workers' unions. Its members include 751 unions representing over 4,600,000 transport workers in 154 countries. The policy document reviewed the state of transport emissions in urban transport, road transport, shipping, civil aviation, and rail, developed a trade union approach to reducing emissions in the transport sector that also builds unions' power and legitimacy, and offered concrete actions unions can take to address climate change. GLI presented the findings of the document at the ITF's first Climate Change Conference in Mexico City, August 2010.

To read about the report's main conclusions and the resolutions on climate protection adopted by the ITF on August 4th, 2010, click here.

Transportation Policy Documents

Labor's Route to a New Transportation System
Authored by Lara Skinner. Published by the Cornell GLI, July 2011.

Transport Workers and Climate Change: Towards Sustainable Low Carbon Mobility
Authored by Sean Sweeney and Lara Skinner. Published by the ITF, August 2010.

SATAWU and Transport Climate Jobs Powerpoint
Presentation by Jane Barrett, SATAWU

One Million Climate Jobs Pamphlet- South Africa
From the One Million Climate Jobs Campaign