For the tens of thousands of unionists participating in the massive September 21 climate change march in New York City, the campaign to curb global warming is as important as the campaign for worker rights. Indeed, for many of the most-exploited people, from poor and minority communities and nations, who led the 400,000-person throng, the two go together, since the same corporate polluters who poison their air and their water are the ones who exploit their labor. Union leaders speaking at the march and afterwards repeatedly made that point.
Environmentalists, unions and other activists called the march in advance of a Sept. 23 UN-hosted global climate summit to make clear to the world leaders – including Democratic President Barack Obama – that the time for inaction on curbing carbon emissions has ended. Saying they see climate change as a labor issue, unionists at the march said also climate disasters like Hurricane Sandy in New York often hurt their members - workers, the poor, youth, women, immigrants and minorities - the most and that that green jobs could be good-wage jobs that can't be shipped overseas. Marchers included Communications Workers, Teamsters, AFSCME, the Office and Professional Employees, National Nurses United, the Service Employees, the National Writers Union-UAW and other unionists. "Further delay, and inadequate and unenforceable treaties to mitigate global environmental pollution, is no longer an option if life and our planet's health are to be protected and preserved,” Jean Ross, RN, co-president of National Nurses United, told one of many pre-march rallies elsewhere nationwide. “We are facing a world health emergency," she said. NNU used the rallies and the march to again demand a tax on financial transactions – trades of stocks, bonds and mutual funds, etc. – to, among other things, help pay for cleaning up pollution. Several dozen DC-area NNU members and their families attended the march.
- Press Associates, Inc. photos by Korey Hartwich/NNU; see more on the DC nurses Facebook page and Twitter feed @NursesHealDC