ILR School

A Green New World: Sustainable Labor in the 21st Century (Issue 2, Fall 2019)

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[Excerpt] Climate change is undoubtedly the defining crisis of our time, so much so that future scholars may look back and use it to define our very epoch. Given that labor is the source of all value in society, we saw it fit to analyze this greatest of all crises through the lens of the greatest of all commodities under capitalism: labor-power. More specifically, we plan on delving into such issues as the interplay between “green job” creation and unionization, the racially inequitable effects of pollution, and the promises and perils of the Green New Deal. To confront climate change from a consumerist perspective is to understand only part of the larger picture vis-à-vis climate change, which, perhaps inconveniently for some, involves workers around the world. To that end, we hope to dispel certain myths regarding the intersection of labor and environmentalism, most notably popular cultural pathologies regarding the “forgotten,” often white and often male, industrial worker. The world of labor, whether unionized or not, is far more diverse than the mainstream media might let on. Moreover, workers are far more eager to tackle climate change issues than many of us may be led to believe. In choosing such a profoundly pertinent theme, we hope to highlight workers as a key component of any discussion relating to the climate crisis, which too often centers on corporations and governments. While it is true that all of us are consumers, almost all of us are workers, too, and we spend far more time at our jobs than we do at Wal-Mart or Target. We also recognize that we have an obligation to commit ourselves to the highest standards of research. We hope that our Fall 2019 issue reflects our dedication to the severity and the hope present in the discourse surrounding climate change.

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sustainability; labor movement; climate change; unionization; green jobs


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