According to a recent report from the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change, our survival requires reducing global climate pollution 45% by 2030 and 100% by 2050. Failure to hit these targets will result in catastrophic warming and unthinkable tragedy that will hit working people hardest. To avoid that disaster, we need a major transformation of our economy that puts people and planet over profit.
What would this economic transformation mean for our existing energy infrastructure, and for all of the workers who build and maintain it? PG&E's crisis puts it at the center of this discussion, and shows how workers face a clear choice: Will we accept more disastrous for-profit management, or will we choose a better path?
New corporate management would very likely result in more broken promises to PG&E workers. For-profit corporate managers respond to technological changes by laying off current workers and replacing them with cheaper, outsourced, and less experienced labor.
A Just Transition
Instead, public and worker ownership of PG&E would allow a just transition for existing workers, to protect and improve their benefits, pay, safety, and unionized power at work. Taking PG&E public allows for a state-guaranteed just transition for workers.
A public PG&E could be a cornerstone of a Green New Deal in California, which would guarantee new union jobs for hundreds of thousands of Californians to build a clean economy. The Green New Deal, popularized by the Sunrise Movement and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and further defined by the DSA Ecosocialist Working Group, is a proposed nationwide program of huge public investment and guaranteed jobs developing clean energy, social housing, transit, and healthy environments for all.
Public ownership of energy systems would hugely strengthen our ability to win and carry out an effective Green New Deal. By taking the for-profit executives and shareholders out of the way, public ownership removes a major lobby for dirty energy, and gives diverse working people the ability to directly decide our own energy future.
Public and worker ownership would not only end the disastrous status quo — it would also protect workers and pensions, while clearing the way to clean energy and a Green New Deal with good union jobs for anyone who wants one.