I recently did a KBOO radio interview where I was asked this question: “The national union movement, led by the Painters and Communications Workers unions, is all in on promoting the PRO Act. But not necessarily the Green New Deal. How does DSA hope/expect to merge its agenda with that of the AFL-CIO?”
This really is the question of this moment. How do we plan to unite workers needs with the needs of this planet, when these movements have been pitted against each other for decades? Our own chapter has grappled with these issues and it has caused visible tension between our Labor and our Ecosocialist members at chapter meetings in the past.
Members of DSA’s Labor and Ecosocialist groups believe, and I with them, that we do it by building solidarity between the labor movement and the climate movement. We must struggle together to solve the climate and economic crises because it is quite clear that our political leaders are controlled by corporate elites and billionaires who are quite happy with the status quo, which benefits them at the expense of the people and the planet.
Ten million people a year die from air pollution caused by the corporate-driven industrial and agricultural complexes along with the US military industrial complex, and that is just one example among many. The climate crisis alone is projected to kill millions, and possibly billions of humans, and cause entire ecosystems to collapse, if we can’t stabilize the climate system in the next decade or so according to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. These crises are literally killing the working class and destroying the planetary systems that we need to survive.
When workers are given the false choice between job stability today or climate chaos tomorrow, workers feel like they have no choice and will choose jobs over planet, even when these jobs pollute the environment and keep us on a path that ends in planetary ecocide. But what the billionaires don’t want us to know is that we don’t have to choose. The policies for better workplaces and for a better world are one in the same. The Green New Deal is a better deal for workers and the planet.
Our path to victory is to reclaim the power of labor and the working class. The capitalist class has money and resources, but only we have millions of people. If we stand in solidarity and organize to build our capacity to effectively wield and leverage our power, we can win. The capitalist class knows this and that is why they are always working to divide us and pit our movements against each other.
We win by building a coalition of movements, organizing in solidarity, that has the power to pressure our leaders to give us what we demand. We demand a world that works for the working class now, and builds the green future needed to sustain humans and non-humans, and to regenerate the planetary systems we all depend on.