Signaling the growing importance of the relationship between environmental and labor organizers on climate change, the AFL-CIO senior official announced that he will be joining Greenpeace USA.
The official, Tefere Gebre, the labor union’s executive vice president, will become the environmental group’s program director on Tuesday. He will oversee all operations, communications, direction of action and organization of Greenpeace USA and report to the group’s co-executive director.
“I am not leaving the workers movement – I am bringing workers to the environmental movement,” Mr. Gebre said in an interview.
Labor and environmental groups have fake alliance to reduce carbon emissions while providing a safety net for workers whose livelihoods are threatened by change and ensuring that green jobs pay well. But these coalition-building efforts have sometimes run into problems limp climate legislation like President Biden’s Build Back Better bill, which has stalled in the Senate.
Mr. Gebre will continue those efforts, while taking on a leadership role on other issues related to environmental justice, such as raising focus on people of color affected by pollution.
“I care about the little kids in corridor 110 in Los Angeles that don’t have their ballots, the kids who wake up with asthma,” he said, referring to the South Los Angeles area along Interstates. state 110. “They have nothing to do with polluting the environment, but they pay for it. We have to make it a movement for them.”
An independent organization affiliated with the international Greenpeace network, Greenpeace USA employs approximately 150 people with an annual budget of $50 million to $60 million, much of it from the organization’s three million members.
Among the group’s prominent campaigns, said Annie Leonard, the co-executive who helped recruit Gebre, was one that focused on democracy, such as defending the right to protest in the context pile of bills could threaten it, and another area focuses on protecting the oceans. Mr. Gebre will oversee all that work.
At the AFL-CIO, Mr. Gebre worked extensively on community and civil rights issues and was the chief liaison for environmental groups, but he said he was often frustrated by the lack of enthusiasm. of powerful union presidents.
Internally, he said, he argued that the fact that hundreds of millions of people are emigrating because of climate change could lead to growing xenophobia, right-wing populism and authoritarianism, and climate is therefore a priority for the labor movement.
“Our movement will never grow under tyranny,” he said, adding, “Everybody shakes their heads, but no action.”
Mr. Gebre, who was born in Ethiopia, came to the United States as a teenager after fleeing to a refugee camp in Sudan in 1983. He became the executive director of the Orange County Labor Federation in California, and is the executive deputy. President of the AFL-CIO since 2013.
As a top AFL-CIO official, he frequently clashed with members of the inner circle of Richard Trumka, the longtime president, who died in August. Mr. Gebre said he believes the federation focus too much on electoral and legislative politics and not enough on movement building and organization, and that the labor movement did not invest in key industries such as technology.
Officials include Liz Shuler, the current president, said that the choice between organization versus political goals such as passing pro-labor legislation was a mistake and that unions needed to succeed at both.
“We are deeply grateful for Tefere’s service and leadership as executive vice president,” Shuler said in a statement. “He understands that worker rights and climate justice can only be achieved together, and we will work closely with him in his new role.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/24/business/economy/tefere-gebre-labor-greenpeace.html A Leading Official AFL-CIO Joins Greenpeace USA