First-Ever “Unjust Transition” Award Goes to Renault-Nissan; Coalition of Environmental Groups Presents French Automaker With Award For Violation of U.S. Worker’s Rights
PARIS, FRANCE — (ENEWSPF)–December 10, 2015. As the COP21 climate negotiations head into their final days, a coalition of prominent international climate action voices — including the Sierra Club, the World Wildlife Federation, Friends of the Earth International, and Dr. Robert Bullard (the “Father of Environmental Justice”) — presented Renault-Nissan with the first-ever “Unjust Transition” award. The award goes to corporations egregiously violating human rights and labor advances around the world amid the rapid growth of the clean energy economy.
“Here at COP21, we’re working to tackle the climate crisis in a just and equitable way that protects workers, families, and the environment,” said Dean Hubbard, director of the Sierra Club’s Labor and Economic Justice Program. “While Renault-Nissan has taken major positive steps on green transportation, no company should get a free pass to abuse the rights of its employees. A clean energy economy and a fair and just transition from fossil fuels should be inseparable, and it’s high time we hold corporations and companies accountable for their actions at home and around the world.”
Following a careful investigation, the U.S. National Labor Relations Board has issued a formal complaint against Renault-Nissan for labor violations against workers seeking representation by the United Auto Workers (UAW) at their Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi. Renault-Nissan is resisting demands for union representation by workers at several plants in Mississippi and Tennessee, including the Tennessee plant where workers manufacture batteries for the Nissan Leaf electric vehicle.
“How can we applaud green industrialization without simultaneous advancements in socioeconomic equity?” said Lauren Wiggins, a Historically Black Colleges and Universities Climate Change Consortium student representative from Tennessee State University. “By not allowing these employees to stand up for their rights, we are not inviting justice for the climate but injustice for the people.”
“To have a 100 percent green car but just 50 percent justice for workers is not sustainable,” said Dr. Bullard, Dean of School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University.
Speakers at the event lauded Renault-Nissan’s record on green transportation, but urged the company to respect the rights of workers in a just transition to a clean energy economy.
“Renault-Nissan is doing its part on the green transition, but it must also do its part for workers in a just transition,” said Samantha Smith, leader of World Wildlife Fund’s global climate and energy initiative. “We’re not just working for a world of low emissions, we’re working for a world that is more fair and more just.”
“We are proud to stand up in solidarity with the United Auto Workers that are fighting against Renault-Nissan,” said Erich Pica, President of Friends of the Earth. “A clean energy economy must be partnered and paired with just jobs and a just transition.”
Organizers of the ceremony invited Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn to attend to receive the award, but he was not present. Instead, the award will travel to Mississippi with United Auto Workers representatives.
About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 2.4 million members and supporters. In addition to helping people from all backgrounds explore nature and our outdoor heritage, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.