Tag Archives: BlueGreen Alliance

BlueGreen Coaltion Calls for More Recycling Jobs in Houston

Houston could have thousands more jobs by increasing recycling initiatives, according to the report “More Jobs, Less Pollution,” released Nov. 15 from a collaboration of six sources, including the BlueGreen Alliance, Recycling Works! and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

In honor of National Recycling Day on November 15th, a diverse coaltion of community residents, union members, and environmental advocates gathered at the steps of City Hall in Houston to highlight discussions about the city’s efforts to extend a recycling contract with Waste Management Inc.

Part of the Brighter Future Houston campaign, members of SEIU Local 1, HOPE, the Houston city employees union ,Texas Campaign for the Environment, the Sierra Club, Good Jobs Great Houston, the Texas Organizing Project and the Texas BlueGreen Apollo Alliance are continuing to make recycling and jobs a priority for Houston.

According to the report, if Americans were to recycle 75 percent of their waste, recycling efforts could create 1.5 million jobs across the country by 2030. About 45,000 of these jobs would be in collecting and processing the waste materials in Texas. The remanufacturing of recycled materials can create thousands of additional jobs.

“Houston is the fourth largest city in the US, a leader in economic and developmental growth, the energy capitol of the world, there is no reason for Houston to be a laggard when it comes to recycling,” said Tyson Sowell, Program Director – Houston, Texas Campaign for the Environment (TCE). “Houston can be a leader in good, green job growth. We challenge the city, working with stakeholders, to create a comprehensive waste management plan with a goal of at least 90% waste diversion from landfills by 2030. Houstonians have a right to recycle and we need to create good jobs.”

Currently, the majority of Houstonians do not have access to single-stream recycling and the city has not created a plan to expand recycling. Additionally, neighborhoods with recycling are a patchwork with one neighborhood having recycling while just a block or two away, another neighborhood does not.

“Half of my neighborhood has access to recycling services while the other half doesn’t, even after we requested it,” said Veronica Ortega, a Southeast Houston resident. “We all have the same rights to have access to this service since we all pay taxes.”

Right now, the city is negotiating a recycling contract. Based on the Request for Proposal that the city released, there is no requirement for the potential contractor to expand recycling or create jobs.

“If you care about jobs, if you care about the environment, and you care about Houston, then you should be for having the city do a lot more recycling, and hiring Houston workers to do it,” said Tommie Toran, Acres Homes resident. “We need recycling in our neighborhoods, we are throwing away valuable jobs by putting recycling in our landfills.”

“The city can benefit by expanding the recycling program citywide,” said Isaiah Monroe, Jr, a resident of Meyerland and a leader of HOPE, the city employees union. “We can create more jobs.”

A 90% reyccling rate will not only create jobs but will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as CO2 from the extraction of virgin materials and methane from landfills. This is equivalent to removing 50 million cars from our roads.

“Recycling conserves natural resources, cuts global warming pollution, and saves water and energy,” said Frank Blake, Executive Committee Member, Houston Group of the Sierra Club. “This new report shows that not only is recycling good for the environment, it’s good for the economy. By expanding recycling, we can create jobs and help protect the environment at the same time.”

Link to the report:

Dave Cortez
Texas BlueGreen Apollo Alliance
512-736-7600 (cell)
512-477-6195 (office)
Check out our 21st century jobs plan: The Texas BlueGreen Apollo Program


CWA and Sierra Club activists gather for coalition-building workshop

Groups develop organizing plans for creating jobs, protecting environment, and winning elections

Last month, organizers and activists from the Communications Workers of America (CWA) District 6 and the Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter came together in Austin for a day and a half training to identify ways in which the organizations can partner in the fight for worker’s rights, good jobs and a clean, safe environment. Based on a 2010 pilot training session between Sierra Club and CWA leaders in Virginia, the Texas workshop was only the second such coming together of the organizations in the country.

Hal Suter, Chairman of the Lone Star Chapter Executive Committee, and Richard Kneupper, Assistant to the Vice President of CWA District 6, collaborated to select 30 participants from targeted areas across the state where CWA and Sierra Club have active memberships or staff. The intense training brought together folks from Dallas, Ft. Worth, Houston, Beaumont, Austin, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and the Rio Grande Valley.

All smiles after the intense day and a half training

Coordinated by CWA Research Economist Ken Peres, the workshop provided participants an opportunity to learn about each organization’s history, priorities, and current campaigns in Texas. A critical component of the training involved a discussion of how both organizations have been battered and beaten back by a corporate-backed political and economic assault on our movements.

“We’re getting our butts whipped and playing defense. We’ve been on the defensive for as long as I can remember. When are we going to say enough is enough and start working to advance our own agendas?” said Kneupper.

By focusing on issues such as the anti-worker, anti-environment Korea, Columbia, and Panama free trade agreements, the ATT/T-Mobile merger and broadband internet expansion, creating good-paying clean energy jobs, coping with drastic budget cuts, and the upcoming 2012 elections, participants developed detailed action plans for communicating these important issues back to their local memberships.

Participants working hard to develop action plans on key issues

Bruce Walker, Chair of the Sierra Club Golden Triangle Group in Southeast Texas, expressed his excitement about the coming together of the two organizations.

“It was great and I appreciate the effort put into the training,” said Walker. “We’re already making plans to follow up and work with our CWA partners in the Beaumont area.”

Workshop participants left the training enthusiastic about the work ahead of them, such as following through on commitments to attend and present at each other’s local meetings, signing up as members of each other’s groups when possible, and executing the organizing plans developed during the training.

“We learned how much more effective we could become if we join our forces to achieve our common objectives,” said CWA Local 6137 Vice President Jake Tafolla. “We were awed by the potential. Walking away, I feel we are all looking forward to working together to build the strongest of coalitions for the common good of our communities, our state, and our nation.”

For more information on the workshop, future trainings in your area, or how you can get involved, send an email to cortez@apolloalliance.org.

Dave Cortez, Coordinator – Texas Apollo Alliance, member CWA-TSEU Local 6186
With assistance from Janelle Hartman, CWA Communications Department