There’s an undeniable link between workers’ rights and environmental protections. It’s pretty difficult to work safely if environmental standards don’t exist to prevent the pollution of air and water in our communities. That’s why unions steadfastly support California’s landmark environmental climate change law, AB 32. In an op-ed in the San Bernardino Sun last week, Laura Reynolds of the Communications Workers of America and Fernando Losada of the California Nurses Association write about the importance of safeguarding and expanding AB 32 so we can all live and work in safe, healthy communities in the future:
Like hard-working Americans everywhere, members of the Communications Workers of America and the California Nurses Association care about building a strong and just economy, featuring quality jobs at living wages with safe working conditions. We also care about the health and safety of the communities in which we live and work.
That is why we want to see California’s pioneering climate change and clean energy law extended beyond 2020. In the eight years Assembly Bill 32 has been on the books, it has created jobs, boosted employment, and made our air cleaner and our environment healthier.
While some big corporations want to roll back AB 32, claiming it hurts jobs, the facts don’t support that notion. Quite the opposite, write Reynolds and Losada.
Of course, there are some who are trying to stop progress for their own gain, who voice the tired and discredited argument that we must choose between good jobs and a clean environment. Fortunately, more and more people are realizing this is a false choice.
The numbers tell the real story. Since 2009, California’s per capita greenhouse gas emissions have dropped, even as job growth here has out-paced the rest of the nation. It is time we all acknowledge that protecting our environment and growing our economy are not mutually exclusive. Working together, we can create quality, sustainable jobs that will benefit our families today while securing a healthy environment for future generations.
We must work together to shift away from an extractive economy that endangers people and the environment and move toward a healthy, sustainable future. While some are attempting to weaken AB 32, workers and communities are fighting to maximize its effectiveness.