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A union approach to Copenhagen

The world’s best political minds are currently wrangling over a climate change agreement. Apparently, no one at Copenhagen has ever heard of Hour Power.(See reelated article http://www1.voanews.com/english/news/environment/16dec09-copenhagen-wednesday-79415217.html)  Full Disclosure: Ini Augustine is currently a member or OPEIU Local 277.  Hour Power might well be the solution to a climate change accord. Hour power is an old union philosophy that says while you are working, you should put your first hour of wages inside your supplemental benefit programs. This is so that when you retire and lose all your benefits through work, you and your family are still protected. (Source: http://www.ailla.com/agents/HourPower.htm)

This ensures that each union member is able to afford their benefits, because cost is equitable. For example: Say you are a unionized school district. The teacher’s aides in that school would make 9-12.00 per hour, the tenured teachers 20-30.00 per hour (see related article http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/09/teacher-pay-around-the-world/). Yet they all pay the same dollar amount for benefits. If both the teacher and the teacher’s aide pay $400 a month for benefits, the teacher’s aide will pay 27 % of their income to benefits while the teacher only pays 12.5%. Somehow, that $400 price tag doesn’t seem fair to the teacher’s aide. More than likely, they won’t have benefits because they’ can’t afford them.


Developing nations such as China and India have a valid argument. Industrialized nations, like the US and Europe, have already completed and profited from our industrial boom. They are like the teachers assistants, just starting out at the bottom of the pay scale. How could it be fair to ask them to pay the same economic price as us, when we are the big dogs making 30 dollars an hour to their 7? This whole climate change mess could be resolved if the nations just agreed to a basic hour power philosophy. Each member nation agrees to invest a percentage of their 5 year average of emissions into renewable energy development, implementation, and environmental cleanup. Developing nations would profit from having a fairer and more proportional responsibility for climate change. America would also have a globally mandated new industry with which to jolt ourselves out of this recession. Hopefully, stable, unionized jobs that pay livable wages to Americans.


Europe and America should just be honest and tell them that we don’t have any money. It's time to put the pride and bluster aside.Consider this: Slovenia has enough money to provide universal health care coverage. America doesn’t. Our economy is reeling, and we are in the midst of a meltdown unheard of in 50 years. For right or for wrong, we are engulfed in a war that has drained our coffers bare. China, especially should know that we have serious concerns about repaying our current debts as it is. A better solution would be to offer training, manpower, and equipment at significantly discounted and or in some cases free rates. Developing nations would be able to grow as well, while still preserving the environment for future generations.


If the subject is approached with real good will and a commitment to fairness, this climate treaty might be the very thing to turn this global meltdown around. This is an opportunity to accomplish great good for the earth, and for the people that live on it.

Blogs
http://blog.aflcio.org/2009/02/05/afl-cio-announces-center-for-green-jobs/http://www.wcpo.com/news/local/story/United-Steelworkers-Union-Pushing-For-Green-Jobs/5ld5qHfPhEqQUnxlcc27WQ.cspx

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