Published: July 22, 2019

Oregon’s largest labor union voted this month to endorse the Green New Deal. The resolution passed unanimously by the 50-member Board of Directors, signaling SEIU 503’s commitment to a 100% clean and renewable energy economy. In the resolution, the Union stressed the importance of including a push for good union jobs in the environmental justice movement.

Twila Jacobsen, who works in local government in Lane County, was one of the SEIU members pushing for this action. “As a founding member of the SEIU 503 Climate Change Committee, I am pushing our Union to get more involved in environmental justice,” Jacobsen said. “Climate change disproportionately impacts low-wage workers and people of color, and as a union of low-wage workers and people of color, we must take on this fight.” 

SEIU 503 represents 72,000 public services workers and care providers in Oregon. We do hundreds of critical jobs from maintaining roads to caring for seniors to supporting students in public universities. 

Mike Powers, an employee at the Department of Agriculture, brought the resolution to the Board. He says his commitment to environmental justice and his commitment to the labor movement go hand in hand. 

“Working on environmental justice goes to the heart of what SEIU 503 is all about,” Powers said. “Local, safe, unexportable, good-paying union jobs strengthen our families and our communities. This endorsement gets us working together for a cleaner, greener, prosperous, secure, and just nation.” 

As state policies are created to address the impact of climate change in Oregon, our Union is committed to making sure there is a just transition for workers into the new green economy. Research shows that labor unions have a powerful impact on the economy, raising wages and winning benefits for people across the job market. In order for our economy to thrive in the future, it must transition away from fossil fuels without putting the economic stability of working families at risk. That’s precisely why it’s so important for labor unions to participate in the transition.

Oregon’s leading environmental organizations have taken notice of SEIU 503’s commitment to addressing climate change.

“As Oregon’s largest public employee union and a critical voice for Oregon workers, SEIU 503’s endorsement is a profoundly important step in the climate justice movement. It means an end to the false narrative of jobs versus the environment. And it means we are just getting started on uniting together to fight the biggest threat we face. On behalf of OLCV, I want to send a huge thank you to SEIU 503 for their leadership on a just transition and commitment to a livable future for all.” – Doug Moore, Executive Director, Oregon League of Conservation Voters

“The biggest challenges facing workers are also threats to the planet. To accomplish the necessary shift away from fossil fuel extraction and toward community-owned energy production, we will need democracy in the workplace as well as in public process. SEIU 503’s endorsement of the Green New Deal gives us hope. A movement of movements is coming together for collective liberation and preservation of life on our planet.” – Huy Ong, Executive Director, OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon

“Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility applauds SEIU 503’s endorsement of a Green New Deal as a forward-thinking move of environmental leadership. Health professionals know that public health depends on a livable climate and living-wage jobs with good health care benefits. These issues go hand-in-hand, and we look forward to joining together to ensure that workers in polluting industries have a just pathway to a regenerative, renewable economy.” – Kelly Campbell, Executive Director, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility

For more information on our Union’s work in this arena, please contact the Climate Change Committee at