B.C. ecosocialists appeal for a cross-Canada labour climate caucus to campaign against climate catastrophe and growing threats to community safety
This statement was distributed by Vancouver Ecosocialists at the British Columbia Federation of Labour Convention in the last week of November. Note the appeal at the end of the text for union members who want to help build a cross-union climate caucus: Vancouver Ecosocialists encourages union members from across the country to respond.
Deliberate Speed-Up of Climate Change
WORST ATTACK EVER ON WORKING PEOPLE,
UNIONS NEED TO JOIN GROWING FIGHTBACK
Some few trade unionists are joining the fightback against the onrushing climate change catastrophe — like a Unifor local president arrested for opposing the Kinder Morgan pipeline on Burnaby Mountain.
But B.C. unions are, by and large, invisible in the historic, climate-focused battle to defend the rights and the very lives of working people.
Even unions with careful, written policies on climate change hesitate to educate and mobilize members. Even unions with dedicated environmental committees do not proudly display logos at the increasingly large and frequent rallies and actions to stop climate change.
Scientists tell us climate change already causes worldwide death and destruction, with much worse facing us if we do not drastically and quickly reduce the burning of fossil fuel.
Echoing science, the World Bank, the International Energy Agency, the United Nations, and even US and UK military forces and spy agencies are warning of massive economic costs and worldwide conflict.
Why? Because we will increasingly lose food and water sources, suffer weather extremes and habitat degradation. Our children and grand-children will face more and more certain economic and social collapse—with the violence, famine, disease, death and other horrors that go with it — if we do not act to stop this unfolding calamity!
As the newborn slogan points out, we must understand, before it’s too late, that “there are no jobs on a dead planet.”
Energy and other mega-corporations, along with their government puppets (can you say “Harper”), react to all the dire climate change warnings by speeding up the extraction, transport, and burning of fossil fuels, which is dooming our children’s children.
Private profit is their only goal. Just as it is, when we sit across the bargain-ing table from them. Just as it is, when we oppose them at the ballot box and try to elect progressive governments that won’t slash public spending and attack their own employees. Just as it is, when they send us to war in foreign lands to pillage natural resources.
Yet some of us fall for the razzle-dazzle. We believe these historic enemies of working people who say they only want to give us high-wage jobs and pay lots of taxes to fund social services, schools, and hospitals. We trust their claims that added benefits include Canadian energy self-sufficiency, along with lower fuel and heating prices.
Not! The high wages are for the very few — and are very temporary. The fictional tax revenues are a blatant lie, as are the lower costs. Pretty much ALL tar sands oil is for export.
Never mentioned are the costs of health problems, storm damage and lost lives, spill clean-ups, climate-related business failures, multiplying species extinctions, and all the other negative, global impacts of the fossil fuel industry. Economists call these “external” costs. They don’t reduce profits. They are paid for by our taxes, by ruined lives, by destruction of our environment.
Meanwhile, these dishonest brokers are attacking most working people and our unions — driving down wages and benefits, reducing union rights to bargain and strike, moving jobs to low-wage foreign countries, thumping the austerity drum to justify cutting public sector workers and the services we provide. In B.C. they even tear up labour contract s— and dispute court rulings that say that’s illegal.
As many individual trade unionists know, we are natural allies with the environmentalists fighting climate change, with First Nations protecting their traditional territories (against energy profiteers), and with communities like Burnaby defending themselves from pipelines, super-tankers, and/or mountainside tank farms — each threatening disaster.
To stop climate change and dangers to communities these allies need the skills and strength of trade unions, always before a key part of progressive struggles in B.C. To fight off attacks on us, unions need active support from progressive people, people whom we are not — at present — actively, visibly supporting in this crucial, historic battle. Alliances are two-way streets.
It’s past time to get off the sidelines and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our allies for our own sake, as well as for the common good. It’s time to be a labour movement again.
Any union member who wants to take part in launching a cross-union climate caucus, please talk to the people handing out this leaflet or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.