As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unevenly impact working-class and marginalized communities, it has become clear that no crisis can be separated from the influences of rampant economic inequality. The U.S. climate crises, which are reportedly increasing in frequency and magnitude each year, are no different. For this reason, the promise of the Green New Deal as a policy platform that can address climate change, environmental racism and economic injustice has inspired the imagination of millions across the country. But workers and union leaders nationwide are warning that a transition to clean energy that does not include strong worker protections can create dire consequences, further exacerbating the massive wealth gap by weakening organized labor and pushing workers into temporary, unstable, or unsafe work.
In the aftermath of Ithaca’s 2019 Green New Deal resolution, the local conversation has paralleled the national, with our community’s workers fighting for more worker-friendly policies to be prioritized in Tompkins county’s green jobs agenda. Currently, there is no worker representation on the county’s Industrial Development Agency, which is the department that provides tax abatements to developers seeking to build in the county and incentivizes many green development projects.