‘Good Jobs, Green Jobs’ Conference 2011:
Green Jobs Organizers Collide with
Neoliberalism’s War & Austerity Plans
By Carl Davidson
Nearly 2000 people gathered at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel over three bitterly cold days in Washington, DC Feb 8-10 for the 4th Annual ‘Good Job, Green Jobs’ conference. The attendees were a vibrant mixture of seasoned trade union organizers, representatives of government agencies and young environmental activists waging a variety of battles around climate change and the green economy.
“We want everyone to work at a green job in a green and clean economy,” declared David Foster, executive director of the sponsor, the Blue-Green Alliance, opening the first plenary. “But what stands in our way?” The answer was a new Congress stalemated by neoliberal resurgence centered in a bloc of the GOP and the far right. “It’s not going to be easy. We’re going to have to fight for it the old-fashioned way, from the bottom up, brick by brick, and floor by floor.”
The Blue-Green Alliance today is a coalition of hundreds of environmental groups, trade unions, and green business enterprises. It was founded less than five years ago, largely by the efforts of Carl Pope of the Sierra Club, one of the largest U.S. environmental nonprofits, and Leo Gerard, international president of the United Steel Workers, one of the country’s largest industrial unions.
“We’ve come a long way,” said USW’s Leo Gerard, the next speaker up. “Today we have dozens of affiliated sponsors and members with a combined membership of 14.5 million. Those fighting harder against us are going to meet some serious resistance.” The participants at the conference represented more than 700 organizations and came from 48 of the 50 states.