INTERVIEW: Former U.S. Congressman Mark Schauer from the BlueGreen Alliance

Former MI-07 Congressman Mark Schauer rode the Democratic tidal wave into office in 2008, defeating “The Original Tea Partier” Tim Walberg, only to be sent packing by a fickle MI-07 electorate in 2010. Since his defeat that put Walberg (eww) back in office, Schauer has stayed involved in politics and now works with the BlueGreen Alliance (BGA) as the national Co-Chair for their Jobs21! project.

BGA is a fascinating collection of labor and environmental groups, 14 in all, working to help promote a “green economy”. The Jobs21! campaign is a grassroots effort, coordinated by BGA, to create millions of new jobs in the green energy sector.

I interviewed Mark Schauer this past week and my interview is now posted at A2Politico. Here’s an excerpt:

Eclectablog: Tell us about the BlueGreen Alliance and, more specifically, the Jobs 21! campaign.

Schauer: The BlueGreen Alliance (BGA) is a partnership of 10 unions and four environmental groups that is dedicated to expanding the number and quality of jobs in the green economy. Together we represent 14 million members and supporters, and the number is growing. BGA works on a variety of issues, from green chemistry and workers’ rights to energy and climate. We really run the gamut.

I’m the National Co-Chair of the Jobs 21! campaign at BGA, and I’m really excited to be leading this effort with Tarryl Clark, the former state Senate Assistant Majority Leader from Minnesota.

Jobs 21! is our campaign to keep and create good jobs by focusing on 21st century industries, like renewable energy, energy efficiency, transportation, manufacturing, broadband Internet, a smarter electrical grid, green chemistry and recycling. You should check out www.bluegreenalliance.org/jobs21 to see the whole plan. All told, we’re looking at creating and keeping millions of American jobs with this campaign.

Eclectablog: Unions and environmentalists working together?! That’s nearly unheard of. It’s difficult to get two unions or two environmental groups to agree to anything much less 14. How does the BlueGreen Alliance make decisions and come to agreements? I’m imagining endless discussions and arguments making the process long and arduous. Is that the case?

Schauer: It’s both harder and easier than you would think. For some things, where we know there won’t be an agreement, we agree to disagree. For other things, each of the organizations helps open the others’ eyes as to why they have the point of view they have and the benefits of their vision. We then work to find consensus and end up in a place where all the organizations — who may not have been comfortable at the start but after learning more about it — are comfortable now. When the United Steelworkers Union and Sierra Club formed the BlueGreen Alliance it was to reject the premise that it’s either jobs or the environment. They correctly concluded that it’s either both or neither. We’re on the side of BOTH.

Eclectablog: When Van Jones came to Ann Arbor to speak just after the election in 2010, he said, “I think it’s important that you be able to remind people that this push for green jobs and green work and green chemistry is asking questions that progressives like but have answers that conservatives like.” However, when I look at the members of the BlueGreen Alliance, it’s pretty much a Who’s Who of Democratic-party supporting groups and your “About” webpage doesn’t make any mention of being “non-partisan”. To what extent is the BlueGreen Alliance reaching out to Republicans since, as Jones said, you “have answers that conservatives like”?

Schauer: We are a non-partisan organization. We’re certainly progressive, but we’re willing to work with anyone — regardless of their political party — to move America forward to a clean energy economy that creates good jobs, reduces our dependence on foreign oil, and leaves a better planet for future generations. There are a lot of issues that progressives and conservatives can find consensus on, especially when dealing with energy.

Read the whole thing HERE.

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