Labor and Climate Leaders Unite for Carbon Free and Healthy Schools Campaign

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS 

On the eve of the 51st Earth Day observance, DC 37 and a coalition of labor unions joined the New York City Central Labor Council and Climate Jobs NY to announce the Carbon Free and Healthy Schools campaign. 

The initiative would create thousands of sustainable green jobs to address climate justice issues as it places New York City public schools in the forefront as a model for carbon-free buildings. 

The plan includes a citywide construction push to update antiquated heating and cooling systems, use large rooftops to generate solar power, and increase school buildings’ overall energy efficiency. 

The ambitious green initiative would save the City and taxpayers millions of dollars in energy costs. 

Currently the Department of Education (DOE) spends about $275 million each year on energy for school buildings. A modest 25% improvement in efficiency would save about $70 million each year, said climate justice advocates.

New York City has the nation’s largest public school system with 1.1 million children learning at some 1,700 public schools in the five boroughs. DC 37 represents thousands of DOE and School Construction Authority employees.

Labor leaders, union members, and grassroots allies attended the April 21 virtual event. 

Henry Garrido, DC 37 Executive Director, Gary Labarbera, President of the Building & Construction Trades Council of Greater New York and the New York State Building & Construction Trades Council, Vincent Alvarez, President of the NYC Central Labor Council, Michael Mulgrew, President of the United Federation of Teachers, and Kyle Bragg, President of 32BJ SEIU, all spoke to the urgent need for significant and impactful environmental improvements to New York City public schools.

Mayoral candidate Eric Adams, who DC 37 endorsed in the June 22 Primary, pledged to support this green initiative if he is elected, as did candidates Shaun Donovan, Kathryn Garcia, Scott Stringer and Maya Wiley.

Building Carbon Free and Healthy Schools requires a community effort. If you are excited about this initiative, please add your name to the pledge below and join the movement to make schools – and our planet – healthier and safer for all. Please sign the petition here: www.carbonfreehealthyschoolsnyc.org

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