More often than not, voters have chose between shitty candidates and ask themselves if they want to participate in an election that can only yield up a lesser of two evils. The Democratic primary in the Laredo-centered south Texas district was never going to be that. In fact, there are now two excellent progressive women running against corrupt corporate DINO Henry Cuellar, Jessica Cisneros and Tannya Benavides. As long as no one gets over 50.1%, in the March 1 primary, there will be a runoff between the top 2 vote-getters on May 24-- if Cuellar decides too run again. So far he hasn't, perhaps because he hasn't had time, all his energy going into helping his GOP allies undermine Biden's Build Back Better program. We've already met Jessica, who nearly beat Cuellar in 2020. Today, let's hear what Tannya has to say about replacing Cuellar. After you read her guest post, please consider contributing to her campaign or Jessica's campaign... or both their campaigns on our Turning Texas Blue page here.
Texans Need Climate Justice & Worker Justice
-by Tannya Benavides
Texas is currently in the midst of three intersecting crises that have been unfolding and developing in a way that has made it difficult to keep up with: the COVID-19 pandemic, the prevalent income & wealth inequality, and the climate crisis-- all three of these developments posing obstacles and risks in the economy, our public health & safety, and our ability to recover to pre-pandemic times.
The scenarios sound dire and even induce a worrisome “doomsday” level of panic. But lucky for Texas, we are also full of opportunity, especially when it comes to the climate crisis and the transition to a clean energy economy & environment. At the risk of oversimplifying matters, what we need is the political courage and the right kind of leaders in office to get us there.
Addressing the climate crisis holistically means we need to center oil & gas field workers by bringing them into the fold through the strengthening of worker protections & rights. Climate justice, in every sense of the term, means worker justice as well. In Texas, we house nearly half of all the oil & gas field jobs nationwide-- 315,600 out of 644,486 jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
This mere fact poses both an opportunity and a challenge: that Texas can be the leading state in addressing the climate crisis by ensuring a just transition for oil & field workers into clean energy jobs. The challenge of course, comes from politicians like my conservative representative, Henry Cuellar (D, TX-28), who has continuously prioritized protecting corporate greed and the salaries of top oil & gas executives at the expense of industry workers, if that means his campaign stays well-funded.
Protecting workers and strengthening their power over that of their CEOs must be a pillar of policies & legislation like the Green New Deal, which will work to address what has become an acceptable norm in our economy-- profiting off of the working class’s labor at the expense of their safety, health, and our environment.
According to the AFL-CIO’s executive paywatch tool, energy company CEOs make anywhere between $255,461 to $28,054,551 with a two-thirds majority making over $3,000,000 per year. The respective ratios of pay in these companies range from 1:1 at the low end, and 293:1 at the highest end. In order to build trust and investment in the oil & gas workforce, we need to address these inequities and provide an alternative: a unionized workforce that is taken care of now and in the future, as we find ourselves transitioning towards a cleaner and greener economy out of necessity to subdue the effects of the ongoing climate crisis.
The first order of business is ensuring that corporate-owned representatives, like Henry Cuellar, are out of our way. In March of 2021, Cuellar was the lone democrat in Congress to vote against the PRO Act. Oil & gas corporations know that they would be held accountable to living wages, healthcare, and higher standards of workplace rights & safety measures if the PRO Act would pass in Congress, which is exactly why they keep representatives like Cuellar securely funded in their campaigns and in their pockets. We cannot let corporate greed continue to hijack our future in this way anymore.
We know that a better world is possible and within reach. With a worker-first approach that brings protections & recognizes the rights of workers in the oil & gas field, we can ensure that Texas is well-positioned to lead the fight against the climate crisis and that workers in the field feel invested and protected from corporate greed in the process and electing representatives that have these same values, is one sure way to make it possible.