Friday, September 2, 2011

Supporting workers and saving the planet.

Hat tip to Progressive Breakfast for serving up this eloquent post by former AFL-CIO officer Joe Uehlein at Common
The broad public interest that ordinary Americans truly seek is sustainability. Even those who are misled into believing that government budget deficits are the greatest threat to our future are motivated by a concern to put that future on a sustainable basis.

Our greed-driven society is economically unsustainable – witness the renewed catastrophe of the global economy. It is socially unsustainable – witness the destruction of the middle class and the polarization of rich and poor worldwide. And it is environmentally unsustainable – witness the melting of the Arctic, the rise in sea levels, and the unprecedented increase in extreme weather events caused by our failure to halt climate change.

Sustainability includes but goes beyond the environment to encompass social and economic sustainability as well. This is often summed up in the “triple bottom line” that calls on corporations to be accountable not only for their environmental performance, but for their economic and social performance as well.

To have a future itself, organized labor needs to reorient itself around the objective of providing a sustainable future for all working people and the world we inhabit. That means putting millions of people to work creating a sustainable economy, society, and environment.
Uehlein describes the personal history that led him to understand the connection between the environment and the well-being of workers in an earlier post at Common Dreams. This earlier post is also an excellent introduction to the issues involved in the effort to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline.

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