YES, we pull through by pulling together, like we've done in the past. In the 20th century, factory workers came together and transformed dangerous, poorly-paid jobs into secure, middle-class work.
And today, workers continue to form unions to make positive structural changes, action by action, win by win.
At an Earth Day discussion with SEIU President Mary Kay Henry—part of a three-day #EarthDayLive digital protest for the 50th anniversary—workers like Adriana Alvarez in Cicero, IL, who has helped her McDonald's store get several raises, may explain how she held countless meetings with co-workers in her basement apartment, creating a strong worker committee.
Renata Kamakura, a grad student at Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University in Chapel Hill, NC, may mention how she's learning firsthand that solidarity goes a long way: "Sometimes it can sound ineffectual or just symbolic, but solidarity reminds you that you are not alone, that there’s people in the same boat as you, with the same problems and aspirations. When you see it, when you live solidarity, we are a force no corporation or billionaire can stop.”
No doubt about it, Adriana and Renata—and all walks of life from different places and different races—are in this together. We know working together in unions empowers us. We know joining together, across all our differences, makes us stronger—able to check corporate power, win better jobs, and demand a clean energy future so we can protect our one and only planet!
Kate Walton, an emergency room nurse in Madison, WI, with a bachelor's degree in conflict studies as well as nursing, knows firsthand how our lives are interconnected—that to take care of each other is to take care of ourselves!
In the midst of coronavirus, Kate says, "I see patients every day who go to work despite being infectious because they need to feed their families—not because they don’t care, or want to work sick, but because they have no other choice. Paid sick time is a necessity for our public health, and that’s highlighted by this pandemic."
Working families are especially vulnerable right now because billionaires have used corporate power to take away workers’ right to form unions. Black, brown, Asian Pacific Islander, and white working people are getting hit hardest, and hit hardest by climate change—by changes like extreme storms, fires, and heat waves.
Without workers coming together in unions, big business is able to protect the status quo—our rigged economy.
It's no coincidence the same corporations and politicians that have attacked labor unions for decades are the very ones negating the existence of climate change! They're lobbying to protect the status quo at the expense of Earth, and all of us on it.
Hear and watch the #EarthDayLive conversation