Above photo: Third Act.
“Keep Fossil Fuels in the Ground!”
Saving the planet isn’t a matter of winning an argument. It’s about what trade unionists know only too well: power and money. And we know how to fight power and money.
Over the last 6 months retired members from over 30 International Unions have joined Third Act, and are planning, and in some cases leading, rallies, marches, and demonstrations on 3/21/23–the Day of Action Against the Dirty Banks.
Bill McKibben recently formed Third Act, an organization designed as a vehicle for “elders” to engage directly in the two great existential issues of our time: the fight to save democracy and the climate crisis. Here’s how he describes Third Act’s mission:
“My generation should more actively join the climate movement following in the footsteps of a galvanized youth …. People in their third act are likely to have the skill, resources, time, and sometimes lots of grandchildren who can serve as an added incentive to act for the benefit of future generations.”
The Union page on the Third Act website (thirdact.org) underlines the unique role retired union members can make to the climate crisis struggle:
“In our working lives as trade unionists we organized, bargained contracts, fought bosses, elected officials, lobbied for and passed legislation, joined with allies in common cause in the unending for economic, racial, and social justice. We are in the front line of the fight to save democracy. Every struggle takes time, compromise, and a continuing agenda–la lucha continua.
The simple physics of climate is different.. Science tells us we have to stop burning fossil fuels and cut emissions by 50% in the next 7 years or face climate disasters far worse than we are already experiencing. We can’t bargain and compromise with and ask physics to slow down.
We don’t have the time. We now know that the fossil fuel industry knew from its scientists 50 years ago that burning their product would destroy life as we know it. There is no debate about climate change; there never was. There was just denial, deceit and disinformation by these corporations–a policy we know only too well. They cost us 30 years. Saving the planet isn’t a matter of winning an argument. It’s about what trade unionists know only too well: power and money. And we know how to fight power and money.
We have to threaten the profits of these 4 dirty banks–Citi, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Chase– so they stop investing in future extraction and infrastructure and instead invest in renewable energy–and do it now.
As retirees, we all have amazingly full plates. But leaving a legacy of a cleaner planet for our children and grandchildren isn’t an item for our bucket list. Physics doesn’t have time, and we don’t have time. We have to join this fight now.”
Union members insist that, as part of the struggle to save the planet, the Third Act coalition fight for good union jobs in the new sustainable economy The model union resolution reads:
“We call on the largest financial institutions funding fossil fuel projects, Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Citibank, to stop all new investment in fossil fuel expansion, including production, infrastructure, and exploration, and to direct the funds to projects that will build renewable energy infrastructure and meet the other needs of our communities, especially workers and their families who are negatively impacted either directly or indirectly by the transition away from fossil fuels.”
Retired union members will carry that message into the protests on the Day of Action Against the Dirty Banks on 3/21/23.
To find demonstrations near you go to thirdact.org or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bob Muehlenkamp, retired Executive Vice President and national organizing director 1199 (SEIU) the Hospital and Health Care Workers Union; Assistant to Teamster General President Ron Carey and IBT organizing director.