This is a brief history of the labor and environmental movements, their cooperation and conflict, and the future of their collaboration. It is intended as an overview designed to inform and inspire, and can be presented in a fifteen to twenty minute presentation in a workshop setting. Its purpose is to help us understand each others’ movements so we can better move down a common path. It was prepared by the Labor Network for Sustainability with additional input from the New Jersey Work Environment Council.

ln4sThe Labor Network for Sustainability   is dedicated to engaging trade unions, workers and our allies to support economic, social, and environmental sustainability. LNS provides a community for those in the labor and sustainability movements and their allies who care about economic justice, ecology, and equality. Our members are helping labor become a force for advancing worker interests – while advancing the broader social good. LNS addresses the issues – from climate protection to food security, from economic justice to corporate accountability, from water availability to renewable energy – that will determine whether we have a just and sustainable future.


The New Jersey Work Environment Council is a membership alliance of labor, environmental, and community organizations working for safe, secure jobs and a healthy, sustainable environment. WEC links workers, communities, and environmentalists through training, technical assistance, grassroots organizing and public policy campaigns to promote dialogue, collaboration, and joint action. Formed in 1986, WEC is the nation’s oldest state labor/environmental (or “blue/green”) coalition.