Unions say they're refusing to support a Green New Deal unveiled by Democrats last week to bring the US economy out of fossil fuels, claiming that this ill-defined plan could kill jobs if its architects do not make do not pay attention.

The unions' positive response underscores the challenge faced by Democratic presidential candidates who support aggressive action against climate change, but must also win back the blue-collar voters who led President Donald Trump to victory in 2016.

The Green New Deal is a non-binding resolution of the Congress presented by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Edward Markey who would legislate on the government's investments in clean energy infrastructure in order to make carbon neutral in America from here a decade.

Democratic senators Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren, Democratic hopefuls for the presidency, have already lent their support.

Proponents of the resolution said the plan – once fully outlined in the legislation – would create jobs in the same way as President Franklin Roosevelt's 1930s New Deal by making the Americans work on transformative government-led projects. .

It also calls for a "just transition" for current fossil fuel workers – from coal miners to oil pipeline workers – through guarantees of health care, jobs and vocational training.

Union officials told Reuters that they were skeptical.

"We will never settle for a" just transition "language as a solution to job losses that will certainly result from some of the resolution's policies," said Yvette Pena O. Sullivan, Executive Director of the International Union of North American Workers. (LIUNA), whose members work in construction and other industries.

Phil Smith, a spokesman for the United Mine Workers (UMWA), who represents workers in the coal industry, echoed these concerns.

"We have already heard words like" just transition ", but what does it really mean? Our members are afraid to put food on the table," he said.

LIUNA and UMWA stated that they had not been contacted for information on the resolution before it was published.

Sean McGarvey, president of the North American Building Industries Unions, representing construction workers from all sectors, including the energy industry, said his staff had been contacted by the office about the Green New Deal, but that its members were skeptical about the promises of "green work".

Members "working in the oil and gas sector can support the middle class, while renewable energy companies have been less generous," he said at an event on the pipeline safety last week.


Democrats supporting the resolution seek to emphasize the contrast between their position and the trump administration's vocal support for drilling and mining and its skepticism about the causes and impacts of global warming.

Trump's approach was warmly welcomed in 2016 in parts of the Appalachians and the Rust Belt, who suffered job losses in the manufacturing and mining industries.

Trump's Democratic rival Hillary Clinton struggled to sell his clean energy program in those areas, and suffered politically after declaring his policy would "put many miners and charcoal companies out of business."

The Sunrise Movement, a youth organization supporting the Green New Deal, plans to launch a multi-state campaign in March to build support, with stops in Michigan, Kentucky and Pennsylvania.

"We believe that many people can be left behind," said Stephen O. Hanlon. "Many of the regions suffering from unemployment are fossil fuel dependent areas with poor air and water quality." Guaranteeing the right to clean air, air pollution and water pollution. water and employment, "a spokesman for the group.

Trade unions have in the past expressed support for more moderate approaches to combating climate change, including cap-and-trade schemes to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

The Ocasio-Cortez and Markey offices have not responded to a request for comment.

© 2019 Thomson / Reuters. All rights reserved.