Creating a Blue-Green Alliance: Labor Unions, Sustainability, and What They Have in Common

Since the end of World War II, the classic model of the labor union has been based on the “manufacturers’ alliance” between them and the forces of industry. For many years, the extensive achievements of labor unions have succeeded in diverting the discussion from the environmental and social costs involved, especially the damage to small local producers and to environmental health. Small businesses are the heart of the sustainable local economic model – an economy that provides local livelihoods, builds communities, and nurtures the environment. This type of economic model has traditionally been portrayed as creating difficulties for the traditional labor union model. Is there necessarily a built-in conflict between labor unions and the local economic model? Is it possible to create a common agenda, and how?

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