CHAPTER 33                          SEIU Leads Push For Green Jobs                                Union Fights To Protect ...
250                                                                                                STRONGER TOGETHER: THE ...
SEIU Custodian Pushes School Trash Recycling      Matt Edgerton, a public school custodian from Marys-   see their impact ...
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Chapter 33 seiu leads push for green jobs - SEIU mène la poussée pour des emplois verts

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The program got a boost in 2010 with a $2.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. The funds gave Local 32BJ the ability to train an additional 1,200 superintendents, with 200 getting the opportunity for advanced building training through the City University of New York. The full range of topics required to operate buildings in the most e.cient way possible was covered, including insulation, heating, air sealing, and water conservation.

Le programme a accéléré en 2010 grâce à une subvention de $4,6 millions provenant du Ministère du travail américain. La subvention a permis au "Local 32BJ" de former 1 200 surintendants supplémentaires (déjà 1000 formés en 2005), dont 200 ayant eu l'opportunité de faire leur formation avancée à l'Université de New York (CUNY).

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Chapter 33 seiu leads push for green jobs - SEIU mène la poussée pour des emplois verts

  1. 1. CHAPTER 33 SEIU Leads Push For Green Jobs Union Fights To Protect EnvironmentW ith scienti c evidence of global warming mounting at the turn of the 21st century, SEIU put itself rmly inthe “green economy” camp. waste. e ultimate goal was to make the industry safer and healthier for patients and workers alike. SEIU janitors in Minneapolis were also taking up the e union pushed Congress and the White House to in- cause of green jobs. In December 2009, as they headed intovest in jobs that would promote energy e ciency and lay the negotiations for new contracts covering 4,000 janitors in thegroundwork for new industries based on renewable resources. Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, they marched through down- e union’s property services members were in the fore- town Minneapolis in support of “green cleaning.” Joined byfront of these e orts. In New York City, Local 32BJ, the na- community activists, the mayors of St. Paul and Minneapo-tion’s largest local union of property services workers, led by lis, and Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, they chanted,President Mike Fishman, established a fund in 2005 to train “What do we want?” and answered with, “Green jobs!”1,000 “green superintendents” in building e ciency. One of the major energy-saving proposals they put for- With studies showing that 77 percent of New York’s green- ward was quite simple: Janitors should work more day shifts,house gases came from buildings, increasing their energy ef- which would signi cantly reduce lighting and heating costs ciency stood to make a huge di erence—the equivalent of in the commercial buildings they cleaned. ey also proposedtaking 150,000 cars o the road. other “green jobs” practices, such as using safer, less toxic clean- e program got a boost in 2010 with a $2.8 million grant ing chemicals.from the U.S. Department of Labor. e funds gave Local As Local 26 President Javier Morillo-Alicea said: “With32BJ the ability to train an additional 1,200 superintendents, our economy in a recession, we all need to think about wayswith 200 getting the opportunity for advanced building train- to make our work smarter. We want to help make this industrying through the City University of New York. e full range of part of our new green economy by increasing the use of greentopics required to operate buildings in the most e cient way cleaning products with safer chemicals, recycling more trash,possible was covered, including insulation, heating, air sealing, and supporting the transition to day-shift cleaning that can re-and water conservation. duce energy use and reduce the carbon footprint of hundreds e Department of Labor also awarded a $4.6 million of buildings in our region.”grant that year to the Healthcare Career Advancement Program(H-CAP), a national partnership of SEIU healthcare unionsand major employers. e funds helped train 3,000 healthcareenvironmental services workers (often called housekeepers) in S EIU’s push for well-paying green jobs also included e orts on the national and international fronts. In 2006, with its membership growing rapidly and the needmethods of tracking and reducing the use of energy, water, and for meeting and sta space growing as well, SEIU moved its
  2. 2. 250 STRONGER TOGETHER: THE STORY OF SEIUheadquarters o ces from 1313 L Street, NW, in Washington, a focus on recycling, indoor air quality, lighting performance,D.C., to a larger building at 1800 Massachusetts Avenue, NW. and energy and water e ciency. e union’s leaders used the move as an opportunity to putreal substance into SEIU’s green philosophy. e 1800 Mas-sachusetts building, originally constructed in 1979, was con-verted into a state-of-the-art “green” building. I n December 2009, SEIU leaders were part of a Blue Green Alliance delegation to the United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Copenhagen. At the “COP 15” meetings, Located in D.C.’s thriving Dupont Circle neighborhood, they urged the adoption of a strong international agreement toand just blocks from the White House, SEIU’s new environ- address climate change with a goal of creating millions of good,mentally conscious International headquarters won “gold” green jobs across the world.LEED-EB status from the U.S. Green Building Council. e Blue Green Alliance is a national partnership of laborLEED-EB is the council’s designation for “leadership in en- unions and environmental organizations dedicated to expand-ergy and environmental design of an existing building.” As of ing the number and quality of jobs in the green economy. It2009, only 14 buildings nationwide had won that status. was launched by the United Steelworkers and the Sierra Club e building has two “green roofs” that help to lter wa- in 2006.ter pollutants and manage storm water. It was renovated with SEIU Executive Vice President Gerry Hudson, who head- ed SEIU’s team in Copenhagen, noted that the United States, with a population that is just 5 percent of the global total, is responsible for 30 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere. “President Obama’s willingness to address and establish long-term solutions to our deepening environmental problems is a night-and-day di erence from the Bush Administration’s era of climate change deniers,” said Hudson. With the United States and world economies facing tur- bulent times, and with conservative politicians and activists still attempting to cast doubt on the scienti c evidence of global warming, the Copenhagen conference ended with only slight progress toward addressing the enormous environmental issues facing the planet. But SEIU’s members, from coast to coast, remained deter- mined to press forward for a greener, healthier economy. Minnesota janitor Marie Flores put it best when she said: “We are willing to do our part to make our work safer and bet-SEIU Local 32BJ President Mike Fishman and New York City Mayor Mike ter for the environment....Going green should be a win-winBloomberg helped create a “Green Buildings” program that will train buildingsuperintendents in energy e cient practices. for everybody.”
  3. 3. SEIU Custodian Pushes School Trash Recycling Matt Edgerton, a public school custodian from Marys- see their impact directly. Students took leadership in gur-ville, Washington, was a man on a mission. He wanted ing out how to implement the project.to do something about all the trash his school cafeteria “I’m not surprised what our folks come up with,” saidproduced. Jim Baxter, executive director of nance at the school dis- “My ‘aha!’ moment was me, inside the dumpster trict in 2010. “ ey’re the ones doing the work. ey’rejumping on garbage bags, trying to make room to put more the ones that face the challenges each day. I think, as ad-garbage bags in….I’m thinking there’s got to be a better ministrators, we have a responsibility to listen a little bitway than this!” he recalled. In 2009, Edgerton wrote the more than maybe is the norm.”winning essay for an SEIU public division contest about e district built o Edgerton’s initiative and movedhis idea to replace the 180,000 Styrofoam trays his middle to expand the program to other schools and ultimatelyschool used each year with something more environmen- districtwide. And though custodians and other classi edtally sustainable. school employees aren’t always seen as having much po- Matt knew involving the middle school students litical clout, Matt’s initiative won new respect for the workwould be integral to the program’s success. A “Green that he and other SEIU school employees do.Team” made up of students, teachers, managers, and par- “At a recent school board election, I had school boardents helped build support for the project. Now students candidates vying for an endorsement from the SEIU chap-separate their own lunch waste into di erent containers ters,” said Edgerton, a member of Local 925. “And thefor garbage, combined recyclables, and compostables—in reason that they were stating that they were desperate forthe process reducing cafeteria waste from 56 bags a day to this endorsement was because of the recycling project.”just 5. Edgerton’s ideas for reduc-ing the environmental impact ofhis school kept the equivalent ofsix school buses of trash out ofthe land ll in 2009 alone, savedhis school district $5,000 on itsutility bill, and gave hundredsof children rsthand experiencewith recycling and conservation.Science classes analyzed howmuch waste they were saving,and took eld trips to the solidwaste dump so students could

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