News flash


Reclaiming Our Intelligence
Marilyn Robb

November 11 & 12

Knowing our

December 2 & 3

A Labor Team at the Global
Climate Action Summit

A labor team was part of the Sustaining All Life (SAL)/United to End Racism (UER) delegation at the September 2018 Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) in San Francisco, California, USA. We brought a union perspective to the work on climate change. Our team consisted of Irene Shen, Cynthia Phinney, Lois Yoshishige, Joe Fahey, and me. I was the overall leader, and the others planned and led the workshops.

As part of the SAL/UER delegation, I learned what it means to work together on a common project: respecting and making space for everyone’s ideas, thinking about the whole, and holding on to perspective in the face of confusion and opposition.

I have been an activist for the past forty-five years and been to many marches, demonstrations, and conferences. But none of them have brought together my world of RC and labor with climate change—until the GCAS.

At a Labor Conference at the GCAS, over two hundred labor activists shared their experiences with and ideas for a “just transition” away from dependence on fossil fuel. I was inspired by how unions are supporting workers who have lost jobs in the fossil fuel industries and bringing workers’ skills to changes in transportation, agriculture, construction, and social services.

Our SAL/UER workshops focused on union and environmental activists working together for a sustainable planet—which is not easy, as these two groups are often at odds [have differences] with each other.

At first we introduced RC ideas indirectly, with examples from our own experiences. But when we were preparing for our third workshop, I suggested that we be more direct. We made a poster with the title “Tools and Practices to Build Unity” and listed on it the following items:

  1. Listening Pairs
  2. Understanding the Effects of Oppression and Internalized Oppression
  3. Discharge
  4. Support Groups
  5. Speaking order

We introduced and explained these things and lost a few people, but those who stayed asked how they could get more information. It was a good lesson for me that it is easier to fight for our RC perspective when we are clear and direct.

Being a part of the SAL/UER delegation was unlike any of my previous organizing experiences. We pushed to state our thinking, stand up for what we believe works, be flexible, and discharge to keep it all going.

Joanie Parker

International Liberation Reference
Person for Union Activists

Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, USA

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion
list for leaders of wide world change


Last modified: 2019-05-02 14:41:35+00