Climate Change Is a Workers’ Rights Issue

A construction worker carries a 24-pack of bottled water over his shoulder on June 14, 2021 in Los Angeles, ahead of an early season heat wave.

 

 

The Heat Wave Shows Climate Change Is a Workers' Rights Issue

 

The workers laboring outside in this extraordinary heat are on the front lines of the climate crisis.

 

MINDY ISSER - 

 

 

The end of June saw temperatures soar all around the United States, with historic heatwaves in the Pacific Northwest and excessive heat advisories, watches and warnings elsewhere. The heat is not just uncomfortable, it’s deadly, buckling roads and melting bridges, with temperatures climbing over 120 degrees in Death Valley, California and British Columbia.

While the 100 million computer workers in this country are more likely to be able to work safely indoors, other urgent and necessary work must continue outdoors, no matter the severity of the weather. The entirety of the working class is (or will be) affected by climate change, but it’s farm workers, letter carriers, construction workers, sanitation workers and other outdoor workers who are unable to escape to air conditioning, and are on the front lines of the environmental crisis. This clarifies the fight against climate change as one not just for environmentalists: Rising temperatures are a workplace safety issue. Relatedly, there is growing awareness among climate activists that workers’ rights and the future of the climate are inextricably linked. Continuing to connect these two existential issues is our best shot at a livable world in which we can all work safely and with dignity.

 

 

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The Heat Wave Shows Climate Change Is a Workers' Rights Issue - In These Times