In the Face of Worsening Pollution, Climate Change & Global Health Emergencies, Largest U.S. Healthcare Union, 1199SEIU, Joins Trade Unions for Energy Democracy

February 13, 2017

For Immediate Release:

Contact: Mark Riley,1199SEIU | | 347-637-0621
Sean Sweeney, Trade Unions for Energy Democracy | | 917-886-1419

1199SEIU says U.S. must create millions of good jobs, rebuild the middle-class and protect people’s health by rapidly transitioning to a 100% clean energy economy

1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, the largest healthcare union in the U.S., has decided to join Trade Unions for Energy Democracy, a program based at the Murphy Institute’s Center for Labor & Policy Studies in New York. TUED is today a vibrant global network of 54 unions in 18 countries, from both North and South, committed to building political support for extending democratic control over energy. TUED is at the center of global labor’s struggle for a pollution-free energy system. In 2016 TUED produced, An Illness to One is the Concern of All, that showed how rising fossil fuel use and climate change has already created a global health emergency. The most recent TUED Working Paper Energy Transition: Are We Winning? draws attention to the urgent need for progressive and forward-looking unions internationally to work together to drive wind and solar energy that is owned and controlled by local communities and municipalities.

“As healthcare workers, our mission is to protect the overall health and well-being of our patients, families and communities and promote good jobs for all working people. Dirty fuels pollute our air, water and land. These fuels are the leading cause of climate change which is a threat to American security and the survival of human civilization. Climate change causes food shortages, droughts, wildfires, flooding and global conflict. But we can solve climate change and create millions of good jobs for working people by investing in clean energy manufacturing, construction and innovation. As we make this transition, we must demand good jobs, living wages, union rights and no-cost job training for workers. That’s why we’re proud to join with our sisters and brothers in Trade Unions for Energy Democracy so we can achieve a fair and rapid transition to a 100% clean energy economy with justice for working people and the world.” -George Gresham, 1199SEIU President

“Our members’ communities are being directly threatened by pollution from dirty fuels and the climate change these fuels are causing. We are facing high levels of asthma, cancer and other diseases caused by air pollution from power stations and diesel trucks. Many of our members work and live in communities that were hit hard by Superstorm Sandy and still haven’t fully recovered. Our hospitals and nursing homes were flooded, causing mayhem for our patients. Not only have we faced coastal flooding here in the U.S., but also many of our members are from countries in the Caribbean, Latin America and Asia that have been continuously inundated. And like the U.S., many of our members’ home countries have faced viruses like Zika, Chikungunya, Dengue and West Nile that have spread rapidly because of climate change. Climate change is the #1 public health threat of the 21st century. We feel as healthcare workers and union members it is a moral imperative to join the global environmental movement and solve climate change as soon as possible. Together with Trade Unions for Energy Democracy, we can build a new economy based on clean energy, a healthy planet and rights for working people.” -Maria Castaneda, 1199SEIU Secretary Treasurer

“1199 joining the fight for energy democracy is an important moment in our collective effort to get to the root causes of poverty and the lack of decent jobs. Health care unions like 1199SEIU stand on the front lines of the battle to construct cleaner and healthier energy systems that are controlled by communities and municipalities in order to meet local needs. This is a global fight. As a union with a proud history of internationalism, 1199SEIU has a crucial role to play.” Sean Sweeney, Coordinator, Trade Unions for Energy Democracy, Murphy Institute


1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is the largest union and fastest-growing healthcare union in the nation. They represent over 400,000 healthcare workers throughout Massachusetts, New York State, New Jersey, Maryland, Florida and Washington, D.C. Their mission is to achieve quality care and good jobs for all.