National labor-environmental group to be headquartered in Minneapolis

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Minneapolis will be the headquarters for a new national labor and environmental organization pursuing “Good Jobs, A Clean Environment, and A Safer World.” The organization will be headed by former Steelworkers District 11 Director Dave Foster.

The United Steelworkers (USW), North America’s largest private sector manufacturing union with 850,000 members, and the Sierra Club, the nation’s largest grassroots environmental organization with 750,000 members, announced the formation of a national Blue/Green Alliance Wednesday in Washington, D.C. The organization will be headquartered at the USW District 11 headquarters in Minneapolis, with Foster as its executive director.

“The Blue/Green Alliance is one of the most important initiatives undertaken by the environmental movement in decades,” said Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club. “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 century — how to provide good jobs, a clean environment and a safer world.”

“Good jobs and a clean environment are important to American workers — we cannot have one without the other,” said Leo Gerard, international president of USW. “In fact, secure 21st century jobs are those that will help solve the problem of global warming with energy efficiency and renewable energy.”

A joint resolution establishing the Blue/Green Alliance, signed by Pope and Gerard, declares that, “This alliance will focus its resources on those issues which have the greatest potential to unite the American people in pursuit of a global economy that is more just and equitable and founded on principles of environmental and economic sustainability.”

Gerard and Pope also announced their 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 200 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.”

The USW and the Sierra Club have worked jointly on issues of mutual concern for many years, including the Clean Air Act, trade reform, and corporate responsibility. Currently, the two organizations have joint projects in 15 states. The new Alliance will build on these existing programs and focus initially on three key issues — global warming and clean energy, fair trade, and reducing toxics. The work will begin in four states — Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Ohio, and Washington, with plans to expand into at least 10 more states in the next two years.

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