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Green Jobs:
Workers' Rights

Protecting workers' freedom of association is closely linked to efforts to protect the environment. Workers serve as the first line of defense against toxic pollution, chemical spills and other accidents that can devastate communities. Union workers are better trained to recognize the health and safety risks of hazardous chemicals and have greater protection to blow the whistle if accidents or other health risks arise in the workplace. Allowing workers the basic right to form a union and to play a greater role in the workplace is an essential component of building a green economy. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that $100 billion invested in public investments, like green jobs, would result in 100,000 good, family-sustaining jobs in the United States.

EFCA Vigil, Los Angeles, May 2009
May 6, 2009: The Sierra Club participated in a 24-hour vigil for the Employee Free Choice Act in downtown Los Angeles. Photo: Bill Corcoran/Sierra Club collection, all rights reserved.

The Employee Free Choice Act

The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) is pending US legislation that would amend the National Labor Relations Act. EFCA will make it easier for workers to form, join and assist labor unions.

Under current US labor laws, employers decide whether or not they will hold an election on the question of unionization. Workers do not get to choose if they should have an election to become unionized or not. If enacted, EFCA would allow workers to be recognized as a bargaining collective if a majority of the bargaining unit employees sign cards. EFCA would also help workers secure contracts with their employers and will toughen penalties against employers who violate workers' rights.

The Sierra Club supports EFCA because unionized workers are better trained to understand the health and safety risks of toxic chemicals. In addition, unionized workers are more likely to speak up about accidents and hazards in the workplace because of the job security provided by unions.

Learn More

EFCA Fact Sheet
Power Point about the Employee Free Choice Act
EFCA Poster
Letter from Sierra Club Executive Director, Carl Pope, regarding our support for the EFCA

To learn more about the Employee Free Choice Act and other issues surrounding workers' rights check out American Rights at Work. American Rights at Work is an educational and outreach program dedicated to securing the freedom of workers to form unions and bargain collectively. Through research, policy analysis and advocacy, the organization exposes worker abuse, stimulates public debate, promotes public policy and publicizes success stories.

Be an Advocate for the Employee Free Choice Act!

Construction worker.The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) will protect workers' rights to form and join unions. Protecting workers' rights is essential to building a clean energy economy.

Global warming represents not only one of the greatest challenges we face as a generation, but also a tremendous opportunity. By investing in a clean energy economy we can both combat climate change and create millions of good, green jobs. To fully capitalize on the potential of the green economy, we will need a robust and skilled workforce. Passage of the Employee Free Choice Act represents a significant step towards protecting workers' rights to advocate for stronger protections for workers and for communities.

Write a Letter to the Editor of your local newspaper. Here are two samples to get you started:
Green Jobs Must Be Good Jobs
History of Working Together

Our elected legislators are currently debating the Employee Free Choice Act; please let your representatives know how you feel about this important legislation!


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