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How Blue-Green Alliances Are Made


Over the past two weeks, port truck drivers in Seattle have refused to work for many reasons, ranging from very low pay to terrible working conditions. The Sierra Club has issued a press release in support of the strikers, noting:

“The Sierra Club stands in solidarity with these brave individuals and in support of the Coalition for Clean and Safe Ports, an alliance among national and local environmental organizations, truckers, labor unions, and faith leaders promoting economic and environmental justice for our ports.

“The 400 truck drivers of Seattle and Tacoma are among the 150,000 port truckers around the country who struggle daily to make a livelihood for themselves and their families. Port truckers are classified as ‘self-employed’ which leaves them – rather than the corporations they work for – responsible for their aging and deteriorating trucks. These trucks are not only a hazard for those that are driving them, but they are also a significant source of air pollution and have created a pollution ‘hot spot’ in South Seattle, putting the entire community at risk.

In the 1970s, many unions worked closely with environmental groups over issues of workplace safety. Sick ecosystems lead to sick people. So-called blue-green alliances made a lot of headway. That became strained in the 80s with organized labor’s decline and the counterculture taking over much of the environmental movement, creating scenes like the Pacific Northwest forests, with a formerly invigorated blue-green alliance in tatters, with radical environmentalists like EarthFirst! both showing complete indifference to workers’ lives and their forcing mainstream environmental groups to shore up their wilderness bonafides to hold off the upstarts.

You may say that a press release doesn’t mean a lot, but to the workers it does have meaning. A major organization is offering support and the chances of the Sierra Club staying involved in the situation and lending support to drivers improving the environment of the workplace is high. There is no down side to the Sierra Club getting involved here. I am very glad to see it.

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