Oct. 19 2004
Contact: Carla Klein, Sierra Club (573) 815-9250
Emil Ramirez, United Steelworkers of America (785) 806-3106
Missouri Environment and Labor Leaders Launch Blue-Green Alliance
New coalition calls for protecting the environment while promoting economic growth and family wage jobs.
St. Louis & Kansas City, MO
In response to continuing economic declines and deteriorating environmental conditions in Missouri, labor and environmental leaders met at locations in St. Louis and Kansas City to announce the formation of the Missouri Blue-Green Alliance.
The new coalition is a grassroots organizing effort designed to promote sound policy, constructive dialog and a positive future in which job growth goes hand-in-hand with safeguarding our air, water and land.
Todays launch event featured appearances by Gary E. Reay, President USWA Local 9014, Roy Hengerson, Sierra Club Ozark Chapter Legislative Chair, Russ Kremer, President Missouri Farmers Union in St. Louis. Kansas City speakers included Herb Johnson, Missouri AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer, Jill DeWitt, Burroughs Audubon of Greater Kansas City and Terry Spence, Family Farms for the Future. Both blue and green representatives said they were fed up with divide-and-conquer tactics and continual attempts to drive a wedge between groups that should see themselves as natural allies.
Our opponents ask Do you want clean air or do you want jobs? Johnson said. Its a false choice. As union members and conservation group members, our interests overlap. As citizens of this great country, our interests are one.
DeWitt noted that developing the states enormous clean energy potential would create thousands of local, permanent, family-wage jobs. She and others listed other common blue-green concerns.
Over the past three years, for example, Missouris average wage has fallen while mercury, lead, arsenic, and PCB contamination in our waters has remained high. President Bush has defended tax breaks for corporations that ship American jobs overseas, and Missouri has lost 29,000 manufacturing jobs, depriving more working families of the income and basic benefits they need. During the same period, more than 28,900 Missouri workers have become unemployed. Mercury, lead, arsenic, and PCB pollution has reached high levels that threaten our ability to eat fish we catch. Missouri currently has health advisories on EVERY lake and stream in the state.
Blue-Green Alliance participants will address issues ranging from investment in renewable energy technologies to trade agreements, such as NAFTA, to the lax enforcement of laws meant to protect workers and the environment. Hengerson said he was looking forward to working with the Blue-Green Alliance during the next legislative session to make progress on our shared goals.
Ask workers across this state if they have more job security today than they did four years ago, Reay said. Are their healthcare costs going down? Are their retirement savings and investments more secure? Do people in our rural areas have a brighter economic future? We need thousands of new jobs, and we need them now.
The Blue-Green Alliances forward-looking, practical action plan includes:
- Developing a policy agenda focused on arenas in which we can champion both environmental values and the preservation and creation of family-wage jobs.
- Challenging the environment vs. jobs myth that has been used to divide labor and environmental advocates.
- Promoting our shared goals of fair trade, corporate accountability, human health and safety, workers safety and environmental protection and justice.
- Providing a forum for exploring areas of conflict and accord and for educating ourselves and our members about labor, environmental and economic concerns.