Washington, DC -- Leo Gerard, President of the United Steelworkers, and I exchanged pens yesterday at the National Press Club, after formally signing a new alliance between the Steelworkers and the Sierra Club. This Alliance, the fruit of thirty years of occasional coalition work, and five years' worth of intense common effort and confidence building, brings together the nation's largest industrial union and largest grass-roots environmental group -- each with more than 800,000 members.
Leo started by making it clear that "Good jobs and a clean environment are important to American workers -- we cannot have one without the other. In fact, secure 21st-century jobs are those that will help solve the problem of global warming with energy efficiency and renewable energy."
In response, I pointed out that "The Blue/Green Alliance is one of the most important initiatives undertaken by the environmental movement in decades. We have reached a point in the development of a global economy where we can either use our planet's resources for long-term sustainability or to create an ever more dangerous polarization of wealth and poverty. Our new alliance allows us to address the great challenge of the global economy in the 21st next century--how to provide good jobs, a clean environment and a safer world."
Symbolically, I signed with a blue pen, and Leo with a green one -- which we then exchanged. Typical of the reaction was a story in the Duluth News Tribune: "We have a lot of the same goals and issues," said Jerry Fallos, a Steelworkers associate member coordinator in Eveleth. "The Sierra Club believes in renewable energy, not just for the economics, but for the environment, and so do we."
Leo and I then announced our intention to launch a "New Vision for America" tour designed to highlight the economic benefits of dealing with global warming. The tour will feature events in several cities across the country whose mayors have embraced the Climate Protection Agreement, a movement of more than 240 U.S. mayors who have vowed to take action in support of the Kyoto Treaty on global warming.
Mayor R.T. Rybak of Minneapolis, one of the signers of the Climate Protection Agreement, said, "This alliance between the Steelworkers and the Sierra Club is exactly what America needs to help promote positive choices. We can have stable jobs based on sound environmental principles. I look forward to welcoming the 'New Vision' tour to Minneapolis."