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Power to the People: A Strategy Discussion on Advancing Social Ownership of Energy

 An international working meeting open to unions participating

in Trade Unions for Energy Democracy and invited guests


Sept 20, 2014, 9:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Cornell Conference Center

16 East 34th Street, New York City



Trade Unions for Energy Democracy (TUED) is an emerging global community of unions who share the view that addressing today’s profound economic and environmental challenges will require a shift towards social ownership, community control and democratic direction of key economic sectors—among the most important of which is energy.

Launched almost two years ago at the Energy Emergency, Energy Transition trade union roundtable in New York, TUED grown steadily as unions at all levels – global bodies, national centers, individual unions, and local and regional organizations – partner with the effort. Today, TUED unions are based in 14 different countries and numerous sectors – among then health care, education, transportation, building and construction, food and agriculture, and power generation.

 The purpose of the meeting

Unions are beginning to adopt energy democracy as a key policy commitment as a means of addressing both immediate worker concerns and the imminent threat of ecological destruction and runaway climate change. The 60-person strategy discussion on September 20 will consider how to expand this commitment across the international trade union movement. We will also discuss how turning support for energy democracy into concrete actions that can engage members and build alliances with other social movements. The meeting will also discuss central political issues facing the global labor movement around energy, climate change, impacts of pollution, and the need to develop an inspiring vision of a truly sustainable political economy based on solidarity and sufficiency. The meeting will also address matters specific to the continued growth and development of TUED in the period ahead.


 Session 1 (9:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.)

  • International labor’s energy and climate politics: do we need a programmatic shift?

                   Facilitator: Maite Llanos, CTA International, Argentina

  • Brief summary of TUED’s approach and strategic focus, Resist, Reclaim, Restructure  
  • Review of the political preparations and objectives for the climate events in New York, Lima and Paris
  • Discussion: Is the political analysis offered in TUED Working Paper 2, Climate Change and the Great Inaction: New Trade Union Perspectives on target? How important is the proposed ‘programmatic shift’ to organizing and mobilizing union members and activists?

                  Respondents: Asbjorn Wahl, NUMGE (Norway), Laura Martin Murillo (Sustainlabour),           Josua Mata (Sentro, Philippines)

 Coffee break 10:45 – 11:00 a.m.

 Session 2 (11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.) Do we know what energy democracy looks like? Mapping the Possible (Part One)

  • Overview and preliminary findings of recent TUED research, Towards Energy Democracy (TUED Working Paper 5, forthcoming)

                   Facilitator:  David Boys, Public Services International

Areas covered: Energy cooperatives; city-level initiatives and repossessions, reform of utilities,  important historical precedents.

Data presented by Sean Sweeney, Lara Skinner, Kylie Benton-Connell, Graham Cox (CUPE,  Canada), Sandra Van Niekerk, (PSIRU-Africa)

One-hour lunch break (12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.)

Special guest: author and activist NAOMI KLEIN.  She will be talking about her new book/film project, This Changes Everything

Respondents: Rosa Pavanelli, General Secretary, Public Services International and Chris Baugh, Asst. General Secretary, Public and Commercial Services Union (UK)

 Session 3 (1:30 p.m. – 2:15 pm) Do we know what energy democracy looks like? (Part 2)

The discussion continues

Session 4 (2: 15 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.) Review of the day and discussion of next steps for TUED

  • Review of the growth, impact of TUED since October 2012, and the challenges ahead
  • Expanding TUED’s capacity and enhancing its research and educational role