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March 28, 2011

Join Sierra Club, Labor in National Day of Action on April 4

Rally-in-Neenah,-Wisconsin

Since the end of February, thousands of environmentalists have joined rallies for workers' rights across the country, connecting assaults on the environment and on workers to fight the influence of corporate polluters.

On April 4, citizens across the nation will come together for a National Day of Action for human, civil, and environmental rights and a better America. (Click here to find an action near you.)

"Why should environmentalists care?" asks Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. "Martin Luther King, Jr. put it best: 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.' If America's workers lose their voice, then corporate polluters will have won a giant victory and all Americans will end up paying a price."

April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated while standing in support of sanitation workers who staged a walkout for fair wages and working conditions. The Sierra Club will honor Dr. King this April 4 by standing with workers across the country.

"We all know there have been plenty of recent attacks on workers and the environment," says Allison Forbes of the Sierra Club's Labor and Worker's Rights Program. "But we're also seeing a growing movement of people who share a vision for safer, healthier communities and good, green jobs for American families."

On March 10, Sierra Club President Robin Mann spoke alongside several international union presidents to a crowd of more than 20,000 in Indianapolis.

"The environmental movement can only succeed if it can find ways to advance its cause that are consistent with the other legitimate goals of our people, and job security is paramount among these," said Mann, below at the Indianapolis rally. "Environmental protection cannot come at the cost of social justice, and conversely, progress toward social justice will become ephemeral if it is earned at the price of a healthful environment."

Robin-Mann-in-Indianapolis

The same day, the Sierra Club held a rally in Santa Fe, New Mexico, below, where Club organizer Shrayas Jatkar spoke to 500 labor and environmental allies.

NM-Workers-Rights-rally

The following weekend, Wisconsin's John Muir Chapter staged several rallies across the state to oppose Governor Walker's budget and show that this movement is not just in Madison, the state capital. Below, Club activist Patti Gavin makes her feelings known at a rally in Neenah, Wisconsin.

Patti-Gavin

Alan Lawrence, chair of the chapter's Fox Valley Group, told the crowd of 200 in Neenah that, "Hard hats and tree huggers share fundamental goals and values, including the right to safe and healthy working conditions and the creation of good clean-tech jobs." That's Lawrence at left, below; at right, state Representative Penny Bernard Schaber.

Alan-Lawrence-Penny-Schaber

While more than 100,000 rallied in Wisconsin, the Sierra Club participated in other workers' solidarity rallies from coast to coast. "What happens to workers in Wisconsin affects workers across the country," New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel told a labor rally in Trenton. "The rollbacks on environmental protections in Wisconsin are the same rollbacks they are trying to do in New Jersey and other places across the nation."

Sierra y Tierra (Sierra and Earth) columnist Javier Sierra that "Cesar Chavez would have been proud of all of us. For the first time in decades, American workers have said 'enough!' and have demanded the respect of their employers."

"The twin priorities of good jobs and a healthy, clean environment are coming under unprecedented attack from corporate polluters and their political friends," says Claire Hood of the Sierra Club's Workers' Rights Program. "Big Coal and Big Oil are trying to use their profits to influence their friends in Congress and state legislatures to undermine fundamental health, environmental, and workers rights protections. We will not allow them to take away the rights that Dr. King and thousands of others fought to secure."

For more information on the movement and why it's important for the environment, please read Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune's recent blog post, United We Stand for Solutions.

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