FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Jerry Brown: The Wrong Stuff

by STEVE ONGERTH

On Thursday, October 17, 2013, the Blue Green Alliance will award Governor Jerry Brown a “Right Stuff” Award for “catalyzing the clean energy economy”.

The Blue Green Alliance is a coalition of AFL-CIO labor unions and environmental organizations. I am a union worker—a San Francisco ferryboat deckhand –and an environmentalist. You would think I would be supportive of this event. However, I am not.

A member of Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) since 1995, I and two Earth First!ers sparked what became the Blue Green Alliance in the fall of 1998.  We envisioned a coalition of environmentalists fighting to save Headwaters Forest in Humboldt County and steelworkers on strike at Kaiser Aluminum in Washington, Louisiana, and Ohio.

An oddball idea? Not really. The Headwaters Forest was in danger of being mowed down by Maxxam Corporation, a Houston corporate raider, to pay for the debt with which it saddled Pacific Lumber in its takeover. Three years later, Maxxam acquired Kaiser Aluminum in a similar fashion.

At first the alliance continued that spirit. Earth First! activists marched on steelworkers’ picket lines. Steelworkers encouraged nonunion Pacific Lumber workers to organize for better working conditions. The combined forces agreed that an “injury to one is an injury to all”, and “no compromise in defense of Mother Earth!” These efforts spawned the “Teamsters and Turtles” protest at the 1999 WTO meetings.

The Blue Green Alliance, while well meaning, has made far too many compromises to corporations. I support renewable energy, but it must be produced sustainably and deployed in harmony with the environment.  Workers who manufacture, install and maintain the equipment must work under good and safe working conditions. Giving Jerry Brown an award is proof the Blue Green Alliance has lost its way.

Governor Brown is not Green. He is fast-tracking the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), a pork barrel boondoggle to divert massive quantities of water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta for Big Ag and Big Oil, which will lead to the extinction of many fish species. Brown recently signed SB4 which greenlights “fracking” in California.

Furthermore, Brown has done nothing to regulate overaggressive logging by Sierra Pacific Industries in Sierra Nevada. He has appointed development friendly insiders to the California Department of Conservation. He has promoted the controversial Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation+ (REDD+) program that allows Northern polluters to purchases forest carbon offset credits from the global South, outsourcing pollution to low income communities of color in struggling nations. He is also threatening to weaken the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) for wealthy developers. This doesn’t fit my definition of the word “green”, unless it’s followed by the suffix- “wash”.

Brown is no friend of unions either. While mayor of Oakland, he abetted gutting the public education system by pushing for two charter schools and systemically targeting the teachers unions, who were doing their best to work under impossible conditions. He ordered police to fire wood pellets and rubber bullets at peaceful anti-war demonstrators and ILWU longshore workers in the Port of Oakland, who were protesting Bush’s union busting and war mongering. Finally, he has negotiated a secret deal to gut the California Public Employee pension system.

If Brown is a “friend” of labor, I’d hate to meet its enemy!

It is ludicrous for Blue Green Alliance to give the Governor an award. Attacks on the environment or workers will not save our planet. It has become all too clear that the cause of the environment’s destruction is the ongoing class war by the 1% on the 99%. Enabling the 1% to greedily continue their destructive course is not what the labor-environmental alliance had in mind 15 years ago, and it is certainly not the way forward. Therefore, I am joining a protest outside of the awards ceremony on October 17 in San Francisco, and I encourage others who really care about workers and the environment to join me.

Steve Ongerth is a co-founder of the IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus. More information about them can be found at http://ecology.iww.org.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 18, 2017
Gary Leupp
The Extraordinary Array of Those Questioning Trump’s Legitimacy (and Their Various Reasons)
Charles Pierson
Drone Proliferation Ramps Up
Chris Floyd
Infinite Jest: Liberals Laughing All the Way to Hell
Stansfield Smith
Obama’s Hidden Role in Worsening Climate Change
Ron Leighton
Trump is Not Hitler: How the Misuse of History Distorts the Present as Well as the Past
Ralph Nader
An Open Letter to President-Elect Donald Trump
Binoy Kampmark
NATO and Obsolescence: Donald Trump and the History of an Alliance
Zarefah Baroud
‘The Power to Create a New World’: Trump and the Environmental Challenge Ahead
Julian Vigo
Obama Must Pardon the Black Panthers in Prison or in Exile
Alfredo Lopez
The Whattsapp Scandal
Clancy Sigal
Russian Hacking and the Smell Test
Terry Simons
The Truth About Ethics and Condoms
January 17, 2017
John Pilger
The Issue is Not Trump. It is Us
John K. White
Is Equality Overrated, Too?
Michael J. Sainato
The DNC Hands the Democratic Party Over to David Brock and Billionaire Donors
John Davis
Landscapes of Shame: America’s National Parks
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Politicians and Rhetorical Tricks
Chris Busby
The Scientific Hero of Chernobyl: Alexey V. Yablokov, the Man Who Dared to Speak the Truth
David Macaray
Four Reasons Trump Will Quit
Chet Richards
The Vicissitudes of the Rural South
Clancy Sigal
“You Don’t Care About Jobs”: Why the Democrats Lost
Robert Dodge
Martin Luther King and U.S. Politics: Time for a U.S. Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Jack Sadat Lee
I Dream of Justice for All the Animal Kingdom
James McEnteer
Mourning Again in America
January 16, 2017
Paul Street
How Pure is Your Hate?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
Did the Elites Have Martin Luther King Jr. Killed?
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Clobbers Ocean Life
Patrick Cockburn
The Terrifying Parallels Between Trump and Erdogan
Kenneth Surin
The Neoliberal Stranglehold on the American Public University
Lawrence Davidson
Is There a Future for the Democratic Party?
Douglas Valentine
Who Killed MLK Jr?
Robert Fisk
The Foreign Correspondent in the Age of Twitter and Trump
Dale Bryan
“Where Do We Go from Here?”
David Swanson
The Deep State Wants to Deep Six Us
Dan Bacher
Obama Administration Orders Speedy Completion of Delta Tunnels Plan
Mark Weisbrot
Obama Should Make Sure that Haitian Victims of UN-Caused Cholera are Compensated
Winslow Myers
The Light of the World
Bruce Mastron
My Latest Reason to Boycott the NFL: Guns
Weekend Edition
January 13, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Gregory Elich
Did the Russians Really Hack the DNC?
Jeffrey St. Clair
The President Who Wasn’t There: Barack Obama’s Legacy of Impotence
Anthony DiMaggio
Ethics Fiasco: Trump, Divestment and the Perversion of Executive Politics
Joshua Frank
Farewell Obummer, Hello Golden Showers
Paul Street
Hit the Road, Barack: Some Farewell Reflections
Vijay Prashad
After Aleppo: the State of Syria
John Wight
Russia Must be Destroyed: John McCain and the Case of the Dodgy Dossier
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail