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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.

Texas Unions Launch Major Effort to Combat Climate Change, Tackle Inequality in US Energy Capital

Man installing solar panels

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 26, 2021

Texas Climate Jobs Project to campaign for bold climate action that creates new, union climate jobs

State’s labor leaders expected to endorse new coalition, adopt recommendations of foundational report at Texas AFL-CIO convention

STATEWIDE — A new and growing coalition of Texas labor unions Monday launched the Texas Climate Jobs Project (TCJP), a major joint effort to fight climate change and reverse income inequality in the energy capital of the country.

A new report by climate and labor experts at Cornell University, Northeastern University, and Occidental College, in consultation with 27 Texas labor unions, accompanied the launch and outlays out a comprehensive climate jobs action plan to put Texas on the path to building an equitable clean-energy economy. A provision of the plan includes the installation of 40 GW of solar energy and 100 GW of wind energy and the electrification of school bus and public vehicle fleets by 2040.

The launch of the Texas Climate Jobs Project comes a day before the Texas AFL-CIO convention, at which the state’s labor leaders are expected to pass a resolution backing the coalition’s mission and its foundational report.

“Texans are facing several converging crises: a changing climate that is hurting working people first and worst, skyrocketing income inequality, and deep racial injustice,” said Rick Levy, President of the Texas AFL-CIO. “Today, the Texas labor movement is coming together to endorse a historic proposal that would tackle these crises by creating good union jobs across our state and combating climate breakdown. As the unions that power the energy capital of America, we believe the Texas Climate Jobs Project can lead the way in transforming our economy in ways that lift up working families and communities while protecting the air we breathe and the water we drink. We must make sure that the workers who have powered this state for generations are not left behind.”

The Texas Climate Jobs Project will advocate for long-term solutions to these intertwined crises by pushing state and local lawmakers to tap the state’s massive renewable energy potential and create millions of new family-sustaining union jobs, as outlined in the report’s recommendations.

In addition to outlining targets for renewable energy development and vehicle electrification, the report calls for the retrofitting and installation of solar panels systems on all Texas public K-12 schools by 2035, the creation of a Just Transition Commission, and the construction of a high-speed rail network.

“Climate change is hurting every working person in Texas,” said Bo Delp, Executive Director of Texas Climate Jobs Project. “Today, unions from across our state are advancing their vision of a pro-worker, pro-climate agenda that gives everyone a fair shot to succeed in our clean energy transition.” 

View a summary of the report’s recommendations and the full report online here.
View a fact sheet summarizing the report’s recommendations here.

What Texas labor leaders are saying:

Service Employees International Union Texas, President Elsa Caballero: “Our members were essential to keeping Texas running during the Covid-19 pandemic and are on the frontlines of climate disasters in our state, from Hurricane Harvey to the ice storm last winter. These crises will continue to hit the working class, immigrants, and communities of color in Texas first and worst. That’s why SEIU Texas is proud to work alongside the Texas Climate Jobs Project to lead the way with a plan to combat climate change, create millions of good union jobs, and tackle racial injustice.”

Teresa Vazquez, Service Employees International Union member and janitor: “As essential workers, we have demanded dignity and respect during the pandemic. Now, as union members, we’re stepping up to demand a response to our state’s climate crisis that is impacting all of us. Working people across the state are ready to lead on climate change, and that’s what the Texas Climate Jobs Project is all about.”

American Federation of Teachers, Texas President Zeph Capo: “We are proud to join the Texas Climate Jobs Project in creating a pro-climate, pro-worker agenda for Texas. As a union of 66,000 teachers and education workers from across Texas, we know just how important it is to build a safe, healthy, and equitable future for our educators and our children.”

United Steelworkers, Lee Medley: “New uses of energy in Texas can’t come at the expense of job quality. Every working person deserves a union, and that includes people building the infrastructure and operating the facilities that will help meet the energy needs of future generations.”

Southwest Laborers District Council, Assistant Business Manager, Jeremy Hendricks: “From the recent deadly ice storm to worsening hurricane seasons and heatwaves, Texans know the devastating effects of climate breakdown. We can put millions of people to work in good union jobs by investing in clean energy and the infrastructure of the future while ensuring a just transition for folks in the oil and gas industries. That’s why we’re proud to stand with the Texas Climate Jobs Project.”

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 220, Member Phyllis Goines: “Last year’s ice storm and this year’s heatwaves are all the proof we need: our electrical grid in Texas desperately needs to be upgraded and modernized for the future. Electrical workers know this better than anyone. That’s why I support the Texas Climate Jobs Project. We have just three short decades to address our climate breakdown. Unions in the energy capital of America are leading the way to make sure that the energy transition creates millions of good union jobs and healthier, more equitable communities.”

United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry Local 68, Business Manager Wayne Lord: “We’re proud to stand with the Texas Climate Jobs Project to lead the way to a renewable energy future for Texas. Climate change is already causing worse extreme weather events and putting stress on our infrastructure in Texas. But the climate crisis also presents Texas with an enormous opportunity to create millions of good-paying union jobs that power the new clean economy.”

United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry Local 211, Political Director Ace Coody: “Our union of plumbers and pipefitters is working with the Texas Climate Jobs Project because our communities deserve high-quality infrastructure built with high-quality union jobs. Investing in solutions to our climate crisis can help us win both.”

United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry Local 286 Business Manager, Chap Thornton: “UA Local 286 is committed to making sure our members are at the center of climate action in our industry. Central Texas is transitioning to cleaner and more efficient uses of energy, and we are partnering with the Texas Climate Jobs Project because working people in this new economy deserve access to union careers.”

Communication Workers of America District 6, Assistant to the Vice-President Sylvia Ramos: “When we fight together, we win. CWA District 6 is proud to stand with the Texas labor movement to advance our shared vision of a climate jobs plan for Texas. We believe that investments in climate infrastructure -- from broadband for all to electric buses and solar power technology -- can not only build a climate-safe future for our children but also create good, union jobs with family-sustaining benefits and wages for our communities. Together, we can build a Texas where our air and water are clean and every job is a good one.”

American Federation of Government Employees Local 1003, President Jeanne Schulze: “AFGE District 10 is ready to lead in the fight for climate action in Texas. Our members are dedicated public servants who keep our communities running, our air clean, and our neighborhoods safe. We know that investing in renewable energy and common-sense climate solutions will uplift communities and create millions of family-sustaining union jobs for Texans who need them most. We know the Texas Climate Jobs Project will help advance a concrete climate action plan for our state.”

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1338, Business Agent Kenneth Day: “From mechanics to bus drivers, ATU Local 1388 members work hard to keep Dallas connected. Electrifying buses and public transportation is a key climate solution that can create union jobs and help reduce toxic emissions from diesel buses, which contribute to climate breakdown and pose a serious health hazard for riders, ATU Local 1338 members, and residents. That’s why we’re part of the growing coalition of working people coming together to ensure unions are at the center of this transition.”

Dallas Building & Construction Trades Council, President Craig Berendzen: “The Dallas Building and Construction Trades Council is proud to support the Texas Climate Jobs Project. Our members build North Texas, and we have to make sure that as our leaders address our changing climate, workers aren’t left behind. We don’t have to choose between having good jobs and protecting the air we breathe and the water we drink -- we can have both.”

Texas State Employees Union, Secretary Joanne Day: “As a union member, dedicated public servant, and a microbiologist, I’m proud to represent TSEU in support of the Texas Climate Jobs Project. Working families in Texas are getting hit first and worst by the climate crisis, which is wreaking havoc across communities through extreme weather events. And our state is also one of the worst when it comes to income inequality. The labor movement in Texas has a plan to create a healthier environment and millions more good, family-sustaining union jobs for communities that need them most.”

Young Active Labor Leaders (YALL), Texas Chair Angi DeFelippo: “Young people in the labor movement are rolling up our sleeves to address climate change and build healthier communities for future generations. Fighting climate breakdown is about standing up for workers’ rights, racial justice, and a just economy that puts working families and communities over profit, every time.”

International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Local 22, Business Manager Lacy Wolf: “Mechanical insulators will be an important bridge to a clean energy future. Improving insulation applications in areas such as manufacturing facilities, commercial buildings, and transportation methods can improve the energy efficiency of carbon fuel used today and will ease the switch to employment in the coming energy transition. Our apprenticeship program is ready to assist in developing the new workforce -- but these jobs must pay workers fairly and give workers career training.”

Association of Flight Attendants, Ginny Stogner McDavid: "Climate change is already disrupting our workplaces as Flight Attendants, from extreme weather events that ground flights to more and more dangerous turbulence in the air. We're proud to support the Texas Climate Jobs Project because we need bold, worker-led solutions to tackle the climate crisis and create good, family-sustaining jobs. Together, we can build an economy that's sustainable for our families and our planet."

Texas Climate Jobs Project
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 26, 2021
Contact: Bo Delp, Executive Director of Texas Climate Jobs Project, (202) 341-7191

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