While some unions face a devastating dilemma when their members’ livelihood is tied to the carbon economy, others are finding common ground with environmentalists. Janitors represented by the SEIU and their green movement counterparts have long shared an interest in eliminating toxic cleaning products. Under the banner of Bargaining for the Common Good, SEIU Janitors in the Twin Cities and local environmental activists went a step further in February.
Under Bargaining for the Common Good, unions and community organizations meet together prior to union negotiations and develop a shared set of demands. In this case, SEIU Local 26 sat down with student climate strikers and groups like Environment Minnesota and the North Star Chapter of the Sierra Club, and incorporated a series of environmental demands into their bargaining priorities alongside wage and benefit improvements. After grueling negotiations and a short strike, the union won not just a raise but creation of a labor-management fund that will look for ways to reduce the environmental footprint of the office buildings they service.
For more information on the strike see Lessons from the First Union Climate Strike in the U.S. in Labor Notes and Bargaining for Climate Justice in The Forge.