What Could a Worker-Focused Just Transition Look Like? (w/ Megan Milliken Biven, James Hiatt, & Clarke)

0:00 / 1:19:31
December 12, 2022

As humanity barrels towards climate catastrophe, the need to envision and build more ecologically sustainable societies and economies becomes more pressing with each passing day. However, our collective imagination is often so limited that it becomes impossible to envision societies and economies that aren't organized around the quest for profit and infinite growth. So, what could a "degrowth" economy look like? To some, "degrowth" is a dirty word signaling a future of austerity that would translate to tremendous losses in jobs and economic stability for working people as societies race to cut back economic production to ward off the worst effects of climate change. To others, “degrowth” might mean the reduction of operations in the most environmentally destructive industries like oil and gas while targeting job growth in other areas like building green infrastructure, environmental cleanup efforts, sustainable farming, and so on. But, as is so often the case, you rarely get to hear what working people on the ground have to say about these issues.

For the past year, Max has had the honor of participating in a fellowship program for The Maintainers, "a global research network interested in the concepts of maintenance, infrastructure, repair, and the myriad forms of labor and expertise that sustain our human-built world." Over the next two episodes, we're going to introduce you all to some of the work that Max and The Maintainers team have been doing for the fellowship. In today’s episode, you’re going to hear one of the interviews Max conducted as part of the cornerstone group project for the 2022 cohort of Maintainers Movement Fellows.

In a special panel discussion about what a worker-centered transition to a more ecologically sustainable economy could look like, Max speaks with: Megan Milliken Biven, a former federal government employee and founder of True Transition, an organization that focuses on speaking directly to oil and gas workers throughout the United States about their working conditions, their training and compensation needs, their hopes for tomorrow's industries, and is working to help create the kind of good-paying jobs and get workers the kind of training they need to transition to a sustainable energy future; James Hiatt, who was an oil refinery worker, lab analyst, and operator for a number of years and now works with the Louisiana Bucket Brigade to promote alternative forms of economic development in Louisiana beyond the grip of the fossil fuel industry; and Clarke, a longtime commercial diver who’s done contract work primarily for oil and gas companies in the Gulf of Mexico for over 15 years, but is now transitioning to other forms of commercial diving work.

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Featured Music (all songs sourced from the Free Music Archive: freemusicarchive.org)

  • Jules Taylor, "Working People Theme Song