Kelly has had a distinguished career as a journalist and a labor organizer (she led the union drive at Vice) and has incredibly smart things to say about labor politics in the current moment.
KIM KELLY: That’s a big question, and I don’t think there’s an easy answer. I think the Green New Deal is a good start, but that’s assuming that we can even make it work. I think it’s very easy to understand why people in these industries are scared. If you’re going to work every day, trying to feed your family, trying to just get through life, and then it seems like everyone is screaming at you about how you’re killing the planet, your job is a problem, it needs to be legislated out of existence, of course you’re going to push back to that because it’s easy to make grand proclamations and talk about big solutions, but it’s really hard to make your rent. There’s a disconnect there, and I think that’s something that really – I think the labor movement needs to really be rallying around these workers and actually putting in the effort to create infrastructure that will lead to a just transition.
You can’t just send a couple of people with laptops down to teach people in West Virginia how to code. That’s something that you can do, but that can’t be all of it. This is people’s livelihoods. There’s been this sort of impetus, especially the conservative right-wing fascist side, that is trying to act like coal miners and oil rig workers don’t care, that they’re opposed to this entire idea. And that’s not true at all. We’ve seen so much of this happening in the labor movement with major unions endorsing the Green New Deal and talking about the need for just transition. Look at the BlueGreen Alliance. Even today, UE, who is a very large industrial union, just endorsed the Green New Deal.
This needs to be a collective effort, and I think the AFL-CIO really needs to throw its weight behind this idea, around the just transition and not just capitulate to certain union leaders who have a vested interest in avoiding the whole climate crisis conversation. You need to listen to the workers and listen to the actual working people whose lives are going to be impacted. I don’t know the answer, but I know we need to figure it out fast because the world’s on fire. And that’s not an ideal scenario for anybody, except the rich people who are benefiting from it.
Why Does Teen Vogue Need a Labor Column? [Kim Kelly/Real News Network]
(via Naked Capitalism)