Unions Representing Half a Million Nurses & Healthcare Workers Declare Opposition to Keystone XL Pipeline, Vow to Mobilize Thousands of Members for UN Climate March
Jul 24, 2014
Nurses and caregivers will work together to oppose the pipeline and advocate for public health and green jobs
New York City – Two unions representing half a million nurses and caregivers in every facet of the healthcare industry have declared their opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, and vowed to mobilize thousands of members to the People’s Climate March at the UN in September. 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and the New York State Nurses Association represent large numbers of politically engaged and active members, and the unions’ leadership vowed to enlist others in the labor movement and press elected officials to stop the pipeline. Both unions’ governing bodies have officially passed resolutions opposing the XL Pipeline. Their joint statement is below:
“We are half a million nurses and healthcare workers and we declare our strong support for policies that address the dangers of climate change and prioritize public health, green jobs and renewable energy.
We oppose the Keystone XL pipeline as a hazard to people’s health and a threat to the survival of millions in our country and around the globe. Our opposition to the pipeline stems from our commitment to our patients and our firsthand experience as medical professionals treating the victims of super storms and diseases related to the pollution of our air and water. We also voice our opposition as working people who live in communities that have been devastated by the combination of rising seawaters and increasingly dangerous storms. We strongly believe we need to create good, permanent jobs in the renewable energy industry, not the small number of mostly temporary jobs from the pipeline, so we can make a sustainable transition to a thriving green economy.
Now is a critical moment facing our country and our world – the fate of humanity and our environment are more interconnected than ever before. We must take the effects of pollution and climate change seriously, and take bold steps to ensure a healthy future, including strongly restricting the use of dirty fuels and investing in clean energy research, development, and jobs. The construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which is being promoted by multinational corporations that are not necessarily motivated by our national interest, would be a major, irreversible step in the wrong direction for the health of our nation and our world. The pipeline would lock us into even more reliance on and use of dirty fuel, and the overwhelming evidence shows it would push us inexorably closer towards catastrophe.
Our major concerns about the pipeline are outlined below:
Dirty Oil Is a Health Hazard. As medical professionals dedicated to healing, our mission is to protect the health of our patients and the public. It is our responsibility to carry out that mission not only in our hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, pharmacies and homecare programs, but also in society at large. The Keystone XL pipeline presents a danger to the health of people in the United States and around the world. Our water could be poisoned from deadly spills at drilling sites, along the pipeline, and at refineries. Our air could be further polluted both from the process of extracting and refining the oil, and from increased use of dirty fuel in cars, factories and power plants. And because the Keystone XL pipeline would be transporting a much dirtier form of oil extracted from tar sands, the threat from toxic chemicals that cause a range of diseases including cancer, asthma, and developmental disabilities is even worse.
We Need Green Jobs Now. As working people and union members, we deeply understand that many people in this country are struggling, and our government and businesses must do more to create good jobs. But the number of jobs that would be created has been greatly inflated by the multinational corporations promoting the pipeline. We need real investment in green energy research, development and permanent job creation in the United States in order to move towards a sustainable green economy. The jobs from the pipeline are too few and the risk is too high.
The Pipeline Would Make Our Country & World Less Secure. We have all seen or been touched directly by the super storms, wildfires, droughts, and rising sea levels that, according to the broad consensus of almost all mainstream experts, are caused by climate change. These increasingly menacing changes threaten to displace millions of people and endanger access to our most basic human needs of food, water, and shelter. Such drastic changes could foment more division, instability, and conflict across the globe. Construction of the Keystone XL pipeline would push us significantly further down the path of climate change caused by human activity. Instead, we should be investing in green energy initiatives that lead to a higher standard of living for the world’s poor and working people, greater stability, and peace.
For these reasons, we are standing with all working people, farmers, students, indigenous societies, and other unions throughout the United States and the rest of the world to call on elected leaders to stop the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. We pledge to mobilize our members, build further opposition among labor leaders, and educate the public.
We hope that this critical cause will serve as a larger opportunity to strengthen and expand the natural alliances between unions and the environmental movement. Together, we can stop this pipeline and build a sustainable vision of our future which includes a stable climate, green jobs, renewable fuels and a clean, healthy environment for all.”
– A joint statement from the nurses and healthcare workers of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East & the New York State Nurses Association.
– See more at: http://www.1199seiu.org/unions_representing_half_a_million_nurses_healthcare_workers_declare_opposition_to_keystone_xl_pipeline_vow_to_mobilize_thousands_of_members_for_un_climate_march#sthash.HW1kqzP3.dpuf