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AFL-CIO Convention: Solidarity with Van Jones?


The attack that drove “green jobs czar” Van Jones from the White House this week is an attack on labor and on workers’ best hope for good jobs.  If labor wants to promote green jobs, labor should embrace Van Jones – publicly, loudly, and fast – at the upcoming AFL-CIO Convention.

Van Jones is a proven friend of labor, who has fought to see that green jobs are good jobs with labor rights and fair labor standards.   If ever there was a time for that old labor slogan “An injury to one is an injury to all” it is the injury that has been done to Van Jones.  For it is an injury to every American worker who hopes that the crisis in our economy can be addressed by putting people to work building a new green economy.

As founder of Green for All and author of the best-seller The Green Collar Economy, Van Jones put the issue of green jobs on the political map. Eager to catch the green jobs wave, the Obama administration brought Van Jones in as “special advisor for green jobs” at the Council on Environmental Quality.  But last month Glenn Beck’s Fox News’ show began dredging up calumnies from Jones’s past – all information which admittedly had long been publicly available on the web.  (Yes, that’s the Glenn Beck who said “This president has exposed himself as a guy over and over and over again who has a deep-seated hatred for white people.”)  This Sunday Jones self-sacrificingly resigned to avoid becoming a distraction for the Obama administration.

The campaign against Jones is the tip of the wedge for a far broader campaign against organized labor, protection of the environment, and green jobs.

Credit for starting the campaign that drove Van Jones from office is claimed by Phil Kerpen, Policy Director of Americans for Prosperity.  What’s their agenda?

Americans for Prosperity has been running what it calls the “Stop the Employee No Choice Act“  campaign. Here’s what Kerpen has to say about unions:

“Workers increasingly believe, for good reason, that unions either provide little in return for their dues or work against their interests.”

Kerpen says his defeat of clean-energy legislation is his “No. 1 legislative priority.” His group ran a “Hot Air Tour” under the slogan “Global Warming Alarmism: Lost Jobs, Higher Taxes, Less Freedom.”

Finally, Kerpen gets to attack both labor and the environment by attacking green jobs:  “Green jobs are not economic jobs but political jobs, designed to funnel vast sums of taxpayer money to left-wing labor unions, environmental groups, and social justice community organizers.”  Kerpen and Beck devoted a whole show to “exposing” the union-backed Apollo Alliance as a sinister conspiracy to unite social justice, environmental protection, and labor around the green jobs program.

Where does the money come from?  According to Kevin Grandia of the watchdog group DeSmogBlog:

The AFP is the third largest recipient of funding from the Koch Family Foundations. Before 2003, when the AFP was still named the Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation, it received $18,460,912 in funding. 84% of that funding came from the Koch Family Foundations ($12,906,712) and the Scaife Family Foundations ($2,510,000). Koch Family Foundations is funded by Koch Industries. According to Forbes, Koch Industries is the second largest privately-held company, and the largest privately owned energy company, in the United States. Koch industries has made its money in the oil business, primarily oil refining. Presently, it holds stakes in pipelines, refineries, fertilizer, forest products, and chemical technology.

Koch Industries, by the way, employed the union-busting Faegre & Benson law firm, which, according to its website, specializes in anti-union campaigns and withdrawing from pension plans.

Green for All, the green jobs organization founded by Van Jones, is circulating a petition, “Stand with the Green Jobs Movement.”  The supporting statement say,

Like the great social justice movements of the 20th century, our movement for an inclusive green economy is based in the most fundamental American values: equality, justice, and opportunity for all.

In the face of tactics intended to frighten and divide, we must stand together around the core values that unite us.

Stand with our movement. Sign the petition.

The petition simply says:

I stand for an inclusive green economy based in the most fundamental American values: equality, justice, and opportunity for all.

If labor wants to stand with the green jobs movement  — and if it wants to roll back the right-wing attack on our unions, our environment, and our green jobs — it should ask Van Jones to launch the next phase of the green jobs movement by addressing its convention this week.

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