The membership of one of the largest labor unions voted to fight for environmentalist policies Tuesday, contributing to a growing divide within the labor movement.
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is one of the most powerful labor groups at two million members. It plans to use its immense political influence to combat climate change and support other environmentalists issues. Trade unions, however, have previously expressed concern that environmentalist policy could kill the very jobs their members depend on.
“We know first-hand that our fights for economic, racial and immigrant justice are inextricably linked to the fight for environmental justice,” SEIU President Mary Kay Henry told The Guardian. “Our members adopted a platform today to take on the fight for environmental justice and to stand in solidarity with the rest of the labor movement.”
The AFL-CIO alongside several other top unions launched a political action fund May 12 with environmentalist billionaire Tom Steyer. The unions aim was to influence the current presidential election and oppose Republican candidate Donald Trump. Several trade unions promptly wrote a letter to the unions arguing many of the environmentalist policies Steyer supports kills good blue-collar jobs.
Steyer has agreed to match donations made by unions and other progressive groups supporting the political action fund. He has previously been at the forefront of funding groups opposed to the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Steyer has also spent millions more supporting political campaigns opposed to energy projects.
The North America’s Building Trades Unions, the Laborers’ International Union of North America, the International Union of Operating Engineers among several other trade unions signed the letter. Trade unions for years have become increasingly frustrated with environmental activists who want to the country to stop using fossil fuels.
The SEIU and the trade unions did not respond to requests for comment by TheDCNF.
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