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April 20, 2014

It’s Not Easy Being Green Re: Unions and Environmental Concerns

The union movement likes to paint itself as being for progressive change. It is one of the ways it picks up allies for its special interest agenda. However, when it doesn’t serve its own ends, it quickly abandons those causes. We saw that last month with news stories about unions complaining about the Affordable Care Act. Now it is the environmental movement that is suffering from the fickle tastes of organized labor.

Frog

As all San Francisco residents found out this morning, their subway system BART is suffering from a strike by its 2000-plus employees. These employees, many of whom are represented by the SEIU, are demanding wage increases of nearly twice the national average.

But let’s look at the environmental impact of their strike. In order to attempt to get their oversized wage increases, these workers are putting 400,000 commuters into their cars.  According to BART’s statistics, all of those drivers produce more than 4 million pounds of CO2 emissions each day – the equivalent of the CO2 footprint of an additional 70,000 people. 

Maybe the EPA should look into this and require unions to submit an Environmental Impact Report before they are permitted to go out on strike. 

Additional Resources:

The San Francisco Chronicle - "BART Strike Has Commuters Scrambling"

© 2014 BARNES & THORNBURG LLP

About the Author

Scott J. Witlin, Barnes Thornburg Law Firm, Labor Law Attorney
Partner

Scott J. Witlin is a partner in the Los Angeles office of Barnes & Thornburg and a member of the firm’s Labor and Employment Law Department and the Entertainment and Music Practice Group. Mr. Witlin handles traditional labor and employment matters, including arbitrations, collective bargaining negotiations, compliance with various guild and union agreements, and union organizing campaigns. He represents clients in the entertainment and broadcasting, video game manufacturing, retail, consumer and industrial products, and transportation industries.

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