“Corporate interests are holding our democracy hostage”
– Rachel Rye Butler — Democracy Campaign leader at Greenpeace USA
Peace to Greenpeace, an organization rooted in radical social justice seeking to channel Mother Nature’s need for respect and preservation. Identical to the working class struggle for dignity, empowerment, and peace, Earth — the place where we live, work, and play — has the same cry. Why have many working people been blinded to the detrimental effects that corporate mistreatment of the environment has on working class health? If environmentalists and union activists are both fighting for fair regulation of corporations, why don’t these groups work together more? Isn’t the fight for green jobs synonymously a fight for green — safer and more sustainable — working conditions for working people?
The rich, corporate, and greedy; the careless, entitled, and privileged have created themselves to be foes of working class people and the environment alike. It is not a coincidence that most workers see the fight for working class empowerment and environmental justice as unrelated issues. Divide and conquer is a tool used by the 1% of wealth and resource holders. This tool separates groups of like goals and tribulations (the 99%) in order to dilute their effectiveness and stifle their power to fight against oppressive forces. The effectiveness of any divide and conquer campaign is rooted in its ability to miseducate working people.
Let’s re-educate a bit. Working people, we are the environment and the environment is us. While nature justice organizations such as Greenpeace fight for corporations to have regulations on issues such as dumping toxic waste, and creating landfills of non-biodegradable materials, this fight is directly connected to protecting the health of the working class. “Pollution is one of the biggest global killers, affecting over 100 million people. That’s comparable to global diseases like malaria and HIV (World Health Organization).” According to a study conducted at Cornell University, “Air pollution from smoke and various chemicals kills 3 million people a year. In the United States alone about 3 million tons of toxic chemicals are released into the environment — contributing to cancer, birth defects, immune system defects and many other serious health problems.” Pollution is simply one environmental and labor justice issue. There are many issues that lie at the intersection of environment and labor such as offshoring jobs, corporate deregulation, dirty trade deals, climate change and basic living, transit justice, food deserts, and water safety. Working class, no longer can we remain the willing subjects of the corporate divide-and-conquer machine. We must build alliance with broad social justice movements such as the movement for peace and respect for nature.
CWA and Greenpeace, among other organizations, have been building alliance on legislation, protests, and organizing efforts for a more just environment and political-economic condition. In 2012 CWA and Greenpeace tag teamed to combat worker and environmental injustice. CWA joined Greenpeace and the NAACP to back the Grassroots Democracy Act, HR 6426. This “legislation sought to help restore true representative democracy and combat the epidemic of unchecked money in politics by creating a voucher-based public financing system to empower all Americans to have more of a say in the political process” (CWA Joins). In 2013, the Democracy Initiative was birthed which included the partnership of over 58 member organizations, two of them being, CWA and Greenpeace (About Democracy). In April of 2016, the Democracy Awakening protests were vibrant. CWA and Greenpeace were among the dozens of organizations that participated in civil disobedience for the restoration of democracy (Craighill). When President Trump’s cabinet hearings began, Greenpeace and CWA, among 48 other organizations launched a United Resistance Campaign to combat the corporate cabinet. This collaboration for working people continued with the national Greenpeace and CWA presence at the 2017 People’s Climate March — a global weekend of action to support the truth of climate change and its detrimental effects on environment and consequently working people’s health. This co-activism between labor and environmental justice organizations shames the twin lies that working people have no interests in preserving environment and that environmental preservation has no bearing on labor conditions.
We are nature’s children and the condition of the place where we live, work, and play has tremendous impacts on our health, work, and resources. Labor members and activists be aware, be vigilant, and seek the answer to the question — is not our ability to labor married to our ability to have a safe, clean environment? Peace to Greenpeace an organization who has been operating since 1971 to understand and mend the relationship between human power and our Mother Earth. In more recent history Greenpeace has proclaimed itself to be an ally of labor in the fight against corporate malice and dirty politics.
- “About Democracy Initiative.” Democracy Initiative. N.p., 20 Apr. 2017. Web. 01 Apr. 2017.
- Craighill, Cassidy. “Hundreds Arrested — Including Dozens of Organization Leaders — As Part of Democracy Awakening’s ‘Congress of Conscience’” Greenpeace USA. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Apr. 2017.
- “CWA Joins NAACP and Greenpeace to Back Grassroots Democracy Act, Introduced By Rep. Sarbanes.” Communications Workers of America. N.p., 20 Sept. 2012. Web. 01 Apr. 2017.
- Lang, Susan. “Water, Air and Soil Pollution Causes 40 Percent of Deaths Worldwide, Cornell Research Survey Finds.” Cornell Chronicle. Cornell University, 2 Aug. 2007. Web. 23 Mar. 2017.
- World Health Organization. “Climate change and health.” 2014. Web Accessed April 25, 2015.
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