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E-M:/ AFL-CIO Passes Anti Sprawl Resolution

Dear Friends,
At its national convention in Las Vegas this weekend, the AFL-CIO passed its first anti sprawl resolution.  This has important implications for many of our partners working to stop sprawl at both the state and local levels.  Pasted below is the text of the resolution.  The union's position describes potential avenues for partnerships around environmental justice, urban redevelopment and children's health. 
I hope this information is helpful for those of you seeking to broaden your coalitions.
Conan Smith
Land Programs Director
Michigan Environmental Council

Resolution #16: Urban Sprawl and Smart Growth

Whereas the issues of urban sprawl and smart growth have become major
public and political issues, as demonstrated by the recent passage of hundreds
of ballot initiatives, ordinances and laws; and

Whereas urban sprawl strains all working families by creating
overly-long commuting times, fueling air pollution responsible for skyrocketing
children's asthma rates, creating a lack of affordable housing near
jobs, eroding public services, and denying workers a choice about how to get
to work; and

Whereas sprawling big-box retailers such as Wal-Mart undermine unionized
neighborhood grocery retailers that provide family-supporting wages and
benefits; and

Whereas unionized, inner-city hospitals have been disproportionately
shut down, partly because of the concentration of inner-city poverty caused
by sprawl; and

Whereas the abandonment of our cities, caused by sprawl, undermines
their tax base and thereby harms the quality of public services, which in turn
creates pressure for privatization of those services; and

Whereas the same tax-base erosion is a fundamental cause of school
funding inequities and classroom crowding, which fuel pressure for school
vouchers; and

Whereas the rise of "edge cities" on the fringe of urban areas has
harmed the collective bargaining strength of janitorial and building
maintenance unions and dispersed the hospitality industry, harming the wages of
restaurant and hotel employees; and

Whereas sprawling development on urban fringes creates new jobs beyond
public transit grids, leaving commuters no choice about how to get to
work, and undermining public transit ridership; and

Whereas anti-union manufacturers flee cities for outlying areas as part
of their union-avoidance strategies, making jobs inaccessible for many
people who need them most, including dislocated workers who have been
victimized by deindustrialization and NAFTA; and

Whereas many other unions have suffered as a direct result of the
disinvestments, corporate flight, and tax-base erosion caused by sprawl;

Whereas many unions have long worked to defend urban institutions that
benefit all working families; and

Whereas unions of transit workers have for decades advocated to improve
public transportation that improves air quality and gives working
families a commuting choice; and

Whereas many locals of the United Food & Commercial Workers have joined
community coalitions against Wal-Mart and other anti-union "big box"
retailers; and

Whereas the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust has used Building Trades
pension-fund investments to construct tens of thousands of units of low-
and moderate-income housing, helping address America's affordable housing
crisis; and

Whereas many other central labor bodies and state labor federations have
long advocated for policies now collectively called "smart growth," such
asaffordable housing, better public transit, school rehabilitation, and
the reclamation of brownfields; and

Whereas organized labor rightfully deserves credit for these many
achievements, but has so far been largely overlooked in this national
debate; and

Whereas "smart growth" is an ambiguous and evolving term that applies to
several different kinds of policies, and many competing interest groups
are now seeking to define it;

Now, therefore be it resolved that the AFL-CIO authorize and direct its
leadership to actively engage in the emerging public and political
debates surrounding urban sprawl and smart growth, asserting labor's rightful
role in the national debate about the future of America's cities for the
benefit of all working families.

Conan Smith
Land Programs Director
Michigan Environmental Council
119 Pere Marquette, Suite 2A
Lansing, MI  48912