Green Syndicalism

From Anarchy in Action

Jump to: navigation, search

Green Syndicalism combines green concerns about ecological harmony with syndicalist concerns about ending the exploitation of workers:

Green syndicalism highlights certain points of similarity between anarcho-syndicalism (revolutionary unionism) and radical ecology. These include, but are by no means limited to, decentralization, regionalism, direct action, autonomy, pluralism and federation."[1]

Green syndicalism takes much of its inspiration from the efforts of Judi Bari to organize timber workers and environmentalists in northern California in the 1980s and 1990s, under a coalition between the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and Earth First!. Inspired by Bari's efforts, the IWW in 1991 voted to change its preamble for the first time since 1908, in order to include to its visionary statement the words "and live in harmony with the earth." According to Shantz, "These seven words present a significant shift in strategy regarding industrial unionism and considerations of what is to be meant by work."[2]

Other influences have included Australian construction workers' 1970s "green bans" that shut down over $4 billion worth of infrastructure projects, and the 1980s Lucas Aerospace workers' strike that advocated, in part, building solar panels instead of nuclear weapons.[3]

The ultimate strategy of Green Syndicalism involves taking over the means of production in order to deindustrialize society, shorten the workweek, and build a post-capitalist economy that allows humans to live in harmony with their environment.

Green syndicalism emerges from a realization that blockades and lockdowns will not be sufficient to halt ecological destruction. As Bari wrote in her essay "Revolutionary Ecology," "It is only when the factory workers refuse to make the stuff, it is only when the loggers refuse to cut the ancient trees, that we can ever hope for real and lasting change."[4]


  1. Jeff Shantz, "Green Syndicalism: An Alternative Red-Green Vision," 4 July 2017, Anarchist Library, https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/jeff-shantz-green-syndicalism.
  2. Shantz, "Green Syndicalism."
  3. https://libcom.org/files/green-bans-worker-control-haskell1977.pdf. https://libcom.org/history/1976-the-fight-for-useful-work-at-lucas-aerospace.
  4. Judi Bari, "Revolutionary Ecology," originally published in 1995, http://www.judibari.org/revolutionary-ecology.html.