Press Release

AFL-CIO Holds Inaugural Climate, Equity and Jobs Launch

Today, AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler and AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Fred Redmond hosted a climate, equity and jobs event for Earth Day. The event featured workers who have been directly impacted by the effects of climate change, Biden administration representatives, and racial justice, environmental and environmental justice groups. This event marked the launch of a series of discussions among labor, racial justice and environmental justice organizations aimed at addressing the impacts of climate change on working people and our communities. 

President Shuler and Secretary-Treasurer Redmond opened the event with remarks about the threat that climate change poses to all workers— disproportionately affecting Black and Brown workers—and outlining the AFL-CIO’s robust strategy for advancing environmental and racial justice in the labor movement. Members from AFSCME, the Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) and UNITE HERE then delivered remarks, followed by a fireside chat and discussion with leaders from the NAACP, United Way, CAB Outreach International Ministries, Department of Labor (DOL), GreenLatinos, Howard University School of Law, and BlueGreen Alliance.

“A generation ago, it would have been hard to even imagine having these organizations gathered here at our headquarters to discuss the impacts of climate change,” said Shuler. “But this is a modern labor movement—one that centers racial justice, young workers, and the experiences of Black and Brown workers who have been left behind, for too long because of systemic racism and bias. We as a labor movement are coming together in common cause with these allies and partners, who have long been at the forefront of this work, fighting to make sure that all of our voices are represented.”

“Today's collaboration marks a crucial step towards environmental and racial justice—a testament to the power of unity in confronting the intertwined challenges of our time.” said Derrick Johnson, president and CEO, NAACP. “As we stand together, labor, racial justice and environmental justice organizations, we not only acknowledge the disproportionate impact of climate change on Black and Brown workers but also affirm our commitment to a future where every voice is heard, and every community thrives. This alliance signifies a bold stride towards a more equitable and sustainable world for generations to come.”

“Climate change creates challenges for workers across our nation—be it from clean-up efforts from more frequent and damaging weather events, or from increased risk of heat injuries and illnesses during periods of higher than average temperatures,” said Rajesh Nayak, assistant secretary for policy, DOL. “And heat is already the leading cause of death among all weather-related phenomena in the U.S., given that millions of U.S. workers are exposed to heat in their workplaces. This affects everyone, but workers of color disproportionately hold essential jobs with high exposure levels. At the Department of Labor, we are taking action through new rulemaking, enforcement and engagement. We look forward to hearing more from President Shuler, AFL-CIO affiliates, and environmental and civic partners about how we can keep workers healthy and safe.”


In 2022, the AFL-CIO and all of our 60 affiliated unions passed a historic resolution during our convention on climate change: Resolution 5, which recognized the growing impacts of climate change on workers and communities; the disproportionate burden of these impacts on low-income families and communities of color; and the need for union and government responses that addressed both of these issues. We laid out a four-point plan. 

Now, the AFL-CIO will deliver on this plan. We will: 

  • Engage environmental, community, and environmental and racial justice organizations to advance equitable solutions to pollution and climate change, centered on good union jobs. 
  • Fight for long-term investment on climate adaptation and resilience that protect and improve the lives of working people. 
  • Use the opportunities created by this investment, and investment in clean energy, to grow the labor movement and ensure equitable access to jobs. 
  • Fight for investment in marginalized and disadvantaged communities, as well as communities dependent on lost or at-risk fossil fuel employment. 

Contact: Riley Lopez, 202-637-5018