Steelworkers were among the more than 3,000 people who attended the Good Jobs, Green Jobs national conference which began today in Washington, D.C.
At the conference, labor and environmental leaders, top politicians, business executives and others called for increased investment, innovation and action for good, American jobs that also help our environment and curtail climate change.
USW International President Leo W. Gerard was among the featured speakers at the conference hosted by the Blue Green Alliance, a partnership among the Steelworkers, Sierra Club and other labor unions.
Gerard said recent work-related accidents like those at the Steelworker-represented Tesoro refinery in Washington State and the oil spill off the coast of Louisiana shows that labor and environmental issues are connected in many ways and that it's everyone's responsibility to work for progress on both fronts.
"Our generation has a responsibility to the next," Gerard said. "Our generation is going to be the one to leave the worst mess in history, or our generation is going to be the one to leave the most opportunity in history. I want to be the second one."
Gerard said the Blue Green Alliance has built a movement representing more than 8 million workers and environmentalists that must continue pushing for legislative and business action for the jobs of the future, particularly manufacturing the parts needed in the clean energy and other green industries.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi echoed Gerard's statements and lauded him as one of the nation's leaders in pushing for good, green jobs. Click here for Pelosi's entire speech.
"In Congress, we have stood strong in the drive for good, green jobs," she said. "We've said all along that clean energy is about four things: jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs."
"We need to create jobs around three pillars: investment around health care; investments in innovation in education and investments in clean energy and addressing the climate issue. We've taken care of the first two. Now, we need to get the third done," Pelosi said to applause.
Pelosi said clean energy is not only a jobs issue but is "important for our national security, our economy and our nation's future. This is good for business. Green is gold."
U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis reiterated Pelosi's message.
"This is where our future is: investment in new, green jobs," Solis said. "What I like most is that those jobs are going to stay here."
Solis said the administration is making major investments in manufacturing because it knows making things in America is key to the nation's economic recovery and getting people back to work.
"This is not going to be an industrial revolution but a green revolution," she said.