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What is "Just Transition"?

Labor Unions and Green Transitions in the USA: Contestations and Explanations

This paper concludes that unions are fragmented in their approach to climate policy, but it is too simplistic to divide them into two camps as supporters and opponents of more active climate policy.


This paper examines approaches to climate policy among various unions and finds that they are fragmented in their approaches. Despite the tendency to divide unions into two separate camps on climate issues—supporters and opponents of more active climate policy—empirical analysis suggests a greater diversity of views.

The author suggests five distinct categories along a spectrum of support versus opposition, especially in response to the transition away from fossil fuels. He surveys union policies regarding the energy, construction, manufacturing, housing, and transport sectors. The second half of the paper proposes a political economy approach to green transitions, emphasizing the critical need to examine the social forces for and against a green transition, as well as the tactics and strategies that can help advance progress. The author also notes the diversity of U.S. unions, arguing that the lack of corporatism in the United States means that industrial relations and engagement with companies on environmental issues are quite different from those in Europe or other areas.