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Labor Leading on Climate Initiative

Union woman worker wearing a hard hat and standing in front of solar panels

The Labor Leading on Climate Initiative advances knowledge, policies, and practices to enhance the role of labor and working people in addressing the environmental and climate crises.

Originally published in Worker Institute Blog.

The Worker Institute hosts Climate Job New York's inaugural gala

Michael Bloomberg speaks at Climate Job New York's Inaugural Gala

"The reality is we are facing an ecological crisis. We are standing at a crossroads and must decide on how we want the future to look. All of us are here tonight because we know how we want our future to look and we are compelling others to follow our example," said Allison Ziogas of IBEW Local 3, setting the tone for Climate Job New York's inaugural gala.


People arrive at Climate Jobs New York's Inaugural Gala

On Sept.  24, during Climate Week, The Worker Institute at Cornell’s ILR School hosted Climate Jobs New York’s inaugural gala at its Manhattan office. The event honored Ziogas, of IBEW Local 3, Mike Bloomberg, and UWUA President Jim Slevin for their efforts to combat climate change.

"Climate Jobs New York represents a historic repositioning of the labor movement on the issue of climate change and as the New York state labor school, we at ILR and the Worker Institute are proud to contribute to these efforts and host this important celebration" said Alexander Colvin, dean of Cornell ’s ILR School, in his opening remarks.

“We’re proud that over the last few years, we’ve been able to help convene unions and environmental organizations, policymakers, and other allies to envision a climate jobs program for New York City," Dean Colvin said. "Out of this process, we produced a report authored by Lara Skinner and J. Mijin Cha, ‘Reversing Inequality, Combatting Climate Change: A Climate Jobs Program for New York State.' This report and the convenings helped launch Climate Jobs New York."


Dean Colvin speaks at Climate Job New York's Inaugural Gala

Climate Jobs New York is a growing coalition of labor unions representing 2.6 million working men and women at the center of New York’s economy. Its  mission is to advocate for a clean energy economy at the scale climate science demands, create good union jobs, and support more equitable communities and a more resilient New York. The inaugural gala supported  the group’s efforts to address the climate crisis while ensuring that the new clean energy economy is built by responsible companies that provide good, family-sustaining jobs. 

Climate Jobs New York presented its annual Clean Energy Award to Michael Bloomberg in recognition of his support for not only coalition efforts, but for many organizations working to address climate change. The event was a success with Climate Jobs New York raising over 250K, far more than its target.

"The world is changing – renewables whether it is solar, or wind or hydro, or nuclear are becoming more efficient and that’s a trend that is going to continue, and you're not going to stop that,"  Bloomberg said. "We’ve got to adjust our education system to train the workforce that we need for the future."


Michael Bloomberg poses with Dean Colvin


Climate Jobs New York also honored James Slevin, newly elected president of the Utility Workers Union of America, for his support of action that will address both climate change and income inequality in America. 

"Utility workers like every other labor leader here, want a clean environment," says Slevin. "But we want to make sure that the jobs created are not just a job but a good-paying job, a sustainable job and a job that provides for workers’ families."

Ziogas was also honored by CJNY for her local efforts on behalf of combating climate change. "Aspiring to achieve a green economy with good union jobs that leave no one behind is the solution we need to fight climate change and provide opportunities for all Americans," she said. "We can protect and expand good-paying jobs within the context of the existential threat that climate change presents. I am proof positive that this is not a far-fetched fantasy."


Allison Ziogas speaks at Climate Jobs New York's Inaugural Gala

Award presenters included Gary LaBarbera, President of NYC Building Trades, Janella Hinds, Secretary-Treasurer, NYC Central Labor Council, Liz Shuler, Secretary-Treasurer of the national AFL-CIO, and Chris Erikson, Business Manager at IBEW Local 3. CJNY was celebrating the launch of the first major offshore wind program in New York State and introducing the next phase of its efforts to build support for a clean energy future that tackles climate change, reverses inequality and builds equitable communities throughout New York

"It's clear from the latest climate science, that we have to act boldly and swiftly to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, and we also have to ensure that action to address climate change protects working people, and creates high-quality jobs that help reverse inequality," said Dean Colvin. "The best way to do this is to closely examine the labor and employment impacts of climate change and climate policy and have the voice of labor and working people at the table to tackle climate change. Climate Jobs New York has done a wonderful job of playing that role in New York State."

Guests mingle at Climate Jobs New York's Inaugural Gala