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U.S. Legislative Report: Not Just Jobs. Green, Union Jobs.

People get judged just as much for the things that they do as the things that they don’t. That’s what we teach our children. What did you do when the chips were down? When there was a crisis, did you stand aside and do nothing? Or did you do something to address the situation?

Our elected officials should be treated the same way. At the end of 2021, we praised Congress for approving President Biden’s massive and historic infrastructure bill. Passed during a horrible worldwide pandemic that cost millions of people their jobs, the bill put millions of Americans back to work, leading to today’s historically low unemployment rates.    

But nearly three years later, with the House of Representatives under new Republican management, new crises are at a boiling point. The share of American workers who are members of a union hit a new low in 2023 — it’s now one in ten.  As a comparison, in the mid-1980s, 20% of the workforce was part of a union. So, while we have millions of new jobs, not enough of them are union jobs. Decades of Republican-led state legislatures passing so called “right to work” laws have taken a real toll on organized labor. It is getting very close to the point of no return if we are going to reverse this crippling trend. We all know that joining together in unions enables workers to negotiate for higher wages and benefits and improve conditions in the workplace. By speaking up together, you can accomplish more than you could on your own.

In addition, warmer temperatures are changing weather patterns and disrupting the usual balance of nature. Our climate is changing incredibly fast, with a loss of sea ice, melting glaciers and ice sheets, sea levels rising, and more intense heat waves. This poses many risks to human beings and all other forms of life on Earth. Like the union crisis, this is also at the tipping point.

Yet, a majority of Americans (61%) say that global climate change is affecting their local community either a great deal or some. Two-thirds of U.S. adults say the country should prioritize developing renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar. One of the best ways to fight climate change is by more people riding public transit, which emits far fewer climate-warming greenhouse gases than private cars. A bus can carry 50 or more, and a train in a large city may carry a thousand, but a car only carries 4 to 6 people at most. Moreover, 71% of Americans approve of labor unions, the highest percentage since 1965. Recent high profile successful strikes have strengthened Labor’s reputation in our communities.

So, if the majority of Americans think that we need to invest in green, union jobs (like transit jobs), why are state legislatures and the U.S. Congress not giving the people what they want? That’s a question to think about as we get closer to the fall elections.