Green jobs: Creating good jobs. Cleaning up the environment. Reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
Working America Green Jobs Contest Winners: Going to Washington, D.C. Being trained as green jobs activists. Meeting other activists. Spreading the word about green jobs to other Working America members.
Does that sound good to you?
Working America is the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO. We organize people who don’t have the benefit of a union on the job, mobilizing our members to fight for good jobs and a just economy.
The Wall Street Journal called us a "secret weapon" in 2008 -- with little fanfare, we had become a giant progressive organization for working-class moderates, with a powerful ability to encourage our members to make their economic issues a priority. In The Nation, David Moberg described our recruiting:
Initially Working America recruited mainly non-union households in suburban, predominately white and working-class neighborhoods that were politically independent--places where labor's message could resonate but was missing. But increasingly they recruit as well in central city or suburban neighborhoods of African-Americans and Latinos, using bilingual canvassers or, as in Detroit and Toledo, reaching recruits through networks of churches.
So its members differ from those of many progressive groups: 63 percent have not graduated from college; 41 percent go to church weekly (one-third are "born again"); one-third support the National Rifle Association; half are not strong supporters of either party. Working America, as Nussbaum likes to say, is a mass organization with a working-class base and a strategy to build power to win.
Recently, green jobs have been one of Working America’s major focuses. We’ve partnered with the Sierra Club to talk to our members at their own doors and on a series of massive telephone forums in which Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell, Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, and then-Speaker of the Oregon House and U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Merkley (now a newly sworn-in U.S. senator!), each spoke with more than 10,000 members from their respective states, joined by labor leaders including United Steelworkers (USW) President Leo Gerard and AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka, and representatives of the Sierra Club, including Executive Director Carl Pope.
We emphasize the potential for the creation of millions of new, good jobs coupled with clean energy sources, energy-efficient buildings and improved transit. And we emphasize results – on one of those telephone forums, Gov. Rendell pointed out how a bill requiring 18 percent of energy sold by utility companies to come from alternative sources by 2019 very quickly yielded 1,000 new jobs in the wind industry, with 750 new manufacturing jobs represented by the Steelworkers.
Now, we want to help some of our members become more effective advocates for green jobs and for Working America’s economic justice message. That’s why we’re sending two grand prize winners and up to three honorable mention winners to the Good Jobs, Green Jobs National Conference to be held February 4-6, 2009, in Washington, D.C. Winners won’t just get a free trip (up to a value of $1,500), they’ll get an opportunity to hear from activists and experts from around the country on how we can create jobs and help the environment at the same time.
To enter, go here and, in no more than 500 words, answer the question: "Why do you want to fight for a green jobs economy and why are you the right person to represent Working America's members at the Good Jobs, Green Jobs National Conference?"
Our judges will be looking for clarity of vision of why green jobs are important and worth fighting for; a sense of activism; and demonstrated commitment to Working America’s goals.
Winners will receive tickets to the conference, airfare, a three-night hotel stay and a training session before the conference with a professional Working America activist to prepare. Winners will have the opportunity to attend the conference, interview other attendees and report back to Working America members about the conference and about what Working America members can do to promote green jobs.
Write out your answer and submit it here. Or, if you'd like you, can record your answer, upload it to your favorite video sharing site and send us the link. The contest deadline is January 21, and winners will be contacted by January 23. For complete information, you can see the contest’s official rules here.