Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA)’s Sara Nelson on the Green New Deal, building trust, and a just transition for all workers:

“First and foremost, there has to be a recognition that labor has never seen an actual ‘just transition.’ You can say those words all day long, but what people hear is ‘a couple hours of training and then you’re going to leave my community devastated and alone—like a ghost town.’ So, there’s zero trust.

If you want to build trust, you need to do two things. One, you need to shore up the wasteland that’s already been created where there was no just transition. When new environmental regulations promoted low-sulfur mining, collection of coal moved from union mines in Appalachia to nonunion surface mines out West. No one addressed the communities that were hurt in the process. So miners are understandably skeptical.

Now coal companies have filed for bankruptcy and stopped contributing to healthcare and pension funds. We need to push to adopt legislation that keeps America’s promise to coal miners of pensions and healthcare, as well as addresses black lung— that’s the bare minimum to show good faith that this process of taking on climate change will focus on making coal miners’ lives better, not worse. Bipartisan legislation to fund pensions has had support for years, but Mitch McConnell has stopped it from getting to a vote. We can demand H.R. 934/935 and S. 27 get passed now, and show miners and others working in the fossil fuel industry that we’re on their side. My union, AFA-CWA, will be on the Hill with the United Mineworkers of America on May 8 to do just that. Everyone should get behind securing those pensions.

Second, a just transition needs to talk about how we start the transition process early. We need to get into these communities, talk with them about their needs, and get to know them. It’s important that we not write them off and say, ‘They just have to get over it.’ Nobody is ever going to get over not being able to provide healthcare for their families and watching people die in poverty or lose their homes. So, let’s talk with the people about the jobs that are there and what those jobs also support in the community. Every good union coal mining job supports another five jobs in that community. So, we need to start talking about how we are going to put some of these jobs back into those communities. With new technology? With training? And how are we going to support people in the meantime? Who is going to be able to get retrained and learn a new career?”
from Tacoma DSA