The labor and environmental movements have much to gain from cooperation on mutually beneficial issues. Both movements share similar concern over globalization and its negative impact on our ability to maintain our quality of life.
Often, labor and environmental problems are inseparable. Workplace pollution and toxics are both labor and environmental problems. Low wages that do not contribute to sustainable and livable communities also adversely impact the environment.
The truckers who service the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach often don't make minimum wage after they pay their equipment and fuel costs. This means that nearly 10,000 workers in the Los Angeles area are not in a position to contribute to livable communities. Truckers are often stuck in several hours of waiting to pick up and drop of loads, but they are paid by the load not by the clock. This cut rate economy poses a number of serious environmental challenges. Large shipping companies win with lax code enforcement and nonunion labor. Everyone else loses from the Southern Sierran July 2002
Like truckers, longshore workers are the most at risk to health problems caused by the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. One of the principle health risks is caused by diesel pollution from trucks, trains and ships. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) supports port modernization, so long as new jobs that replace older jobs remain union jobs. As of 5:00pm July 1, 2002, ILWU members are working without a contract as negotiations move forward. On June 26, 2002, the ILWU, Teamsters, ILA staged solidarity rallies in more than a dozen ports around the nation. A photo gallery prepared by the Sierra Club Harbor Vision Task Force shows the the Wilmington CA event. The Teamsters offered an ILWU solidarity press release on the June 26 in support of the rallies. The ILWU also offered a press release for the event.
The Sierra Club, ILWU and Teamsters (and other environmental and labor organizations) have taken positions against corporate-sponsored globalization in the form of the WTO and NAFTA. These international treaties have already compromised our ability to legislate labor and environmental protections in the United States. Read about the Sierra Club's stance on world trade: http://www.sierraclub.org/trade/. Or, check out the Angeles Chapter (Sierra Club) coverage on the January 2000 WTO protests in Seattle.
The Planet (a national Sierra Club newsletter) offered "Green + Blue = Powerful Alliance" in their June 2002 issue which discusses the common interests and some pitfalls in the labor and environmental movements. The Southern Sierran offers an analysis on labor/environmental cooperation in the July 2002 issue. Or see the entire "Shipping Blues" package.
Trade and Investment in Services: The Stakes for Workers and the Environment, a report from the Alliance for Sustainable Jobs and the Environment (October 2001) Downloadable PDF file.
The Alliance for Sustainable Jobs and the Environment (ASJE)
International Longshore and Warehouse Union
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters