November 23, 2020

Just Transition (more)

The late Tony Mazzocchi of the Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers (now part of the Steelworkers) coined the term: “a just transition” away from fossil fuels wouldn’t pit workers against the planet. Those displaced should be able to count on decent new green jobs and retraining.

“There’s a Superfund for dirt,” Mazzocchi used to say. “There ought to be one for workers.”

“Working people aren’t going to
commit economic suicide in order to advance the enhancement of the environment. It’s not the type of choice one should be given.”

Just Transition for labor means: not losing money across industries as wide-ranging as health insurance workers to oil field workers, and requires offering new forms of training. It’s balancing the “whats on it for me?” and protecting jobs, with opportunities to provide the greatest good for the greatest # of people, (plants, animals, landscapes and waterways).
Mazzochi stated that labor must be compensated for jobs lost for environmental reasons.

How is that going? We in the US can’t agree or decide together that there are environmental reasons, or standards that are problematic enough to merit a just transition.

In 2020, Just Transition is focused on clean energy, and described in the article below. Just transition is defined as “a frame­work to address the liveli­hoods and needs of the work­ers and com­mu­ni­ties most impact­ed by the switch to renew­able ener­gy.”

​“We want [a plan to] mobi­lize the econ­o­my in a way that tran­si­tions us off of fos­sil fuels in 11 years, but also pro­tects every sin­gle work­er [and] their abil­i­ty to have a job and health­care.” —Nicole Karsch, Sun­rise Move­ment Organizer

Col­orado passed a ground­break­ing just tran­si­tion law in 2019 that guar­an­tees ben­e­fits and grants for for­mer coal work­ers and coal-depen­dent com­mu­ni­ties.