Climate Strike Support Ideas for Labor Unions and Union Members

The vast majority of union contracts include “no strike” clauses where unions promise not to strike until their contract expires (usually 2-4 year terms). Almost all union workers risk getting fired for striking for climate and almost all unions risk legal repercussions if they try to organize such a strike.  But there are many ways they can participate in and support these actions; here are a few.

Messages of solidarity

  • These can come from individual union leaders, local union executive councils, and central labor councils.
  • Unions should post them on websites and facebook pages, tweet and send them out on other social media.
  • They should be personalized – like a video of individual union members each saying a few words about why they support the climate strike. 

Send delegations 

  • Members may not be able to strike, but leaders and staff can attend actions and be assigned to help prepare.
  • Organize members who are not scheduled to work to attend – for example, janitors who work in the evening could come to an action in the afternoon.
  • Union leave – when contracts allow for leave for union business, use this so that members can attend (and help in advance).
  • Training programs – look for programs, like apprenticeship programs, that have groups of people who could attend. 

Material support

  • Donate money.
  • Assign staff (field, communications, legal) to assist in planning, organizing.
  • Provide office space, photocopying, printing.
  • Legal support for people risking arrest.

Political support

  • Encourage elected officials to endorse, attend and speak out.
  • Encourage city councils and similar groups to declare a Climate Emergency and endorse GND.
  • Arrange legislative hearings into the impact of climate disruption on our communities.
  • Reach out to allied organizations for their support. 

Actions at work

  • Organize lunch-time (or, where possible, on-the-clock) discussions about climate disruption and what workers can do.  Include an organizing ask; e.g.
    • Everybody pull out your phone and call Congressional delegation; 
    • Attend climate strike action after work; 
    • Provide groups to get involved with – LNS, Sierra Club, XR
  • Meet with managers about dealing with climate change – how outside workers respond to excess heat, protocols for handling climate emergencies, budget impact of climate disruption.
    • If possible, especially with public employers, make these open to the public and invite media. 
  • Occupation-specific events – for example:
    • Teachers do units on climate disruption.
    • Health care workers hold trainings on dealing with effects of heat.