Posted: August 1, 2022
(LR SEIU 503 Chairman Mike Powers, Ivonne Rivero, Carol Kelly, Carolynn Kohout, Emily Wang, Patty Falkenstein at the Oregon Workplace Climate Summit)
By: Carol Kelly
Last week, the Oregon Blue Green Alliance hosted Oregon’s first Labor Climate Summit. Representatives from more than a dozen unions across our state were gathered in one room to discuss the impact of climate change on workers and what we can do as union members to address this crisis. The Alliance Blue Green is a national coalition of labor and environmental organizations and SEIU is a leader in the Oregon chapter. We heard from firefighters and nurses caring for victims of inclement weather, electricians and steelworkers working on green infrastructure, and SEIU 503 members like me battling extreme weather when we provide care to those at risk. residence.
The summit showed the extent of union presence in Oregon’s economy as well as the impact of climate change on all of us. Ultimately, we all need clean air to breathe and clean water to drink. No matter how politically we feel or what concerns we may have about a green economy, we are all affected by climate change and agree that our transition to a renewable economy must be centered on affected workers.
Climate change is a global crisis and we are running out of time to make the changes needed to save our planet. We can’t change the world if we can’t have unity among working people on this issue, starting here in Oregon. The summit gave me hope that our state can continue to emerge as a leader in a just transition to a renewable economy where workers are heard, valued and respected.
It will really take all of us, and I believe we are on the right track. Our union is lucky to have a president who makes climate justice a priority, a dedicated committee to move the work forward, and broad support from our members to continue to engage. If you would like to join the members of SEIU 503 in working on this critical issue, contact the Climate Justice Committee and support the resolutions of our working groups at General Council later this month.
Carol is SEIU 503 AFRAM Chair, Home Care Council Director and member of our 2022 General Council Fair Economy, Housing and Climate Justice Task Force.