The findings of this report are derived from more than 100 in-depth listening sessions, including qualitative interviews and focused discussion groups with workers and community members from across the United States, which were conducted in 2020. The sessions, typically lasting an hour or more, involved workers from dozens of unionized and nonunionized industries; union leaders; members of frontline communities, including environmental justice communities, communities of color, and Indigenous communities; along with leaders from labor, environmental justice, climate justice, and other community organizations.
The aim of the sessions was to capture the voices of the workers and community members who had experienced, are currently experiencing, or anticipate experiencing some form of economic transition. The report suggests how past transitions, driven by market forces, corporate entities, and shortsighted public policies, often leave workers and communities largely behind, with little to no support. As such, community trauma has gone unrecognized and unaddressed for years.
The report identifies several themes that have emerged through these sessions, including a picture of what transition entails; how coalitions have come together, particularly those including labor and environment groups; how common vision and strategies for change are built; and what pathways to a just future exist. The report also highlights how individual and collective understandings of transitions range widely, according to type of work, class, gender, race, age, political ideology, previous experiences with environmentalists or the climate justice movement, and relationships with unions and the community. The report affords insightful reading and covers recommendations for policymakers; labor and movement organizations; and future research to fill in the identified gaps in knowledge, including understanding how sectoral transitions such as automation, digitalization, hybrid working, and health care could be done in an equitable manner.