Green jobs rally draws hundreds


The storm clouds looming over Saint Paul College July 27 did not deter nearly 400 union members, environmentalists, social justice advocates, and community members from rallying in support of green jobs. For those unfamiliar with the term, a “green job” is a blue-collar job geared towards sustainability and producing renewable, environmentally friendly forms of energy.

“There’s room for everyone in this movement, and that’s what’s really exciting about it,” said Bridget Ulrich, MPIRG’s Vice Chair. “In order to build a green energy economy, we need an entire environmentally conscious workforce.”

Rally-goers enjoyed live music courtesy of the Lightening and Thunder All Stars. More than a dozen organizations, including the Blue Green Alliance, Sierra Club, United Steelworkers, National Resources Defense Council, Working for America Institute, and Green for All began organizing for Sunday’s event this past April. The rally was intended to educate the public about green jobs’ economic benefits while pressing Governor Tim Pawlenty to act.

Citing Minnesota’s struggling economy, as evidenced by the worst employment levels in 17 years, Blue Green Alliance representative Josh Low stressed the growing need for good jobs, a clean air environment, and a safer world. “We need environmental solutions that put people to work,” urged Low. Speakers echoed Low’s sentiments.

Carlos Garcia-Velasco, the Executive Director of the West Side Citizens Organization, spoke at the rally exclaiming “green jobs are not a pie in the sky idea,” but rather a “tremendous economic opportunity.” Sunday’s event was part of the larger “Green Jobs for America” campaign aimed at reinvigorating the economy by investing in clean, renewable energy.

Other participating organizations included the St. Paul Regional Labor Federation, St. Paul Building and Construction Trades Council, City of St. Paul, Minnesota Fair Trade Coalition, Environmental Justice Advocates of Minnesota, Alliance for Metropolitan Stability, Women’s Environmental Institute, Fresh Energy, freEner-g, Oxfam America, Healthy Legacy, Clean Water Action, Environment Minnesota, MPIRG, Working America, United Steelworkers Local 264, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 789, Windustry, West Side Citizens Organization, and the Will Steger Foundation.

Matt Roznowski is a senior at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, studying political science and mass communications. Email