Labor & Climate Rise for Justice

Dirty Buildings Aug 20 press conference (14).JPG

We know the climate crisis is inextricably linked to inequality: large, multi-billion dollar industries create the lion’s share of the planet’s pollution, and the ultra-rich disproportionately consume resources and use energy, while low-income communities suffer the negative effects of a warming planet. That’s why ALIGN focuses its work at the intersection of jobs, economic inequality, and the environment. We know that addressing the global climate crisis will require us to confront and reform large, powerful industries, build new infrastructure and systems for adaptation, and transform whole sectors of our economy. It is a tremendous challenge, but also an opportunity to create thousands of good-paying jobs for New Yorkers across the City.

ALIGN brings together coalitions of labor unions, community groups, and environmental advocates to research, develop and push strategic policy proposals that make an impact in our communities, and in New Yorker’s daily lives. In recent years, we have campaigned to ensure that the City’s Department of City Administrative Services installs 100 MW of solar on public buildings using union-labor and strong workforce standards. We are currently advocating for an energy efficiency mandate for large buildings - the city’s largest source of pollution and fighting to transform the waste industry to reduce truck traffic emissions and increase rates of recycling. At the state level, we have joined with groups across the state calling on the Governor to enact bold legislation to price pollution and invest in renewable energy.

Through my work, as the coordinator of ALIGN’s Climate Works for All Coalition, I have seen what we can accomplish when unlikely allies from the climate movement, labor and environmental justice communities come together to demand bold, meaningful change from our elected officials. By filtering climate policy through the lens of jobs, social justice, and racial equity, I have seen diverse groups and interests come together and find strategic ways to address the global climate crisis while building our communities and creating opportunity for New Yorkers.

On September 6th, I will join dozens of activists, labor unions, and organizations in New York City to participate in the Rise for Climate march and rally to express our support for frontline communities, environmental justice advocates, and climate groups demanding that New York City and State transition away from polluting industries and toward a vibrant, clean energy economy that benefits all New Yorkers. New York has already established itself as a climate leader. In the face of federal inaction and an ever-growing climate crisis that threatens low-income and coastal communities around New York, we are calling on Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, and our other elected leaders to take bolder action on climate. But, we must ensure that any climate action is just and equitable. That’s why we are working for a just transition that will place the concerns of low-income and climate-vulnerable communities at the center of our economy, and funds climate solutions that create thousands of good-paying, union jobs in our city and across our state.

Brett Thomason