The green bans movement during 1971-75 prevented $5 billion worth of ecologically irresponsible building development. Jack Mundey achieved prominence at the time as secretary of the New South Wales Builders Labourers’ Federation, the organisation that pioneered this spectacular environmental activism. To a public deeply polarised over green bans, Mundey articulated a radicalism that stressed both industrial militancy and ultra-democratic trade union practices, and also the necessity of working-class action in defence of the environment and in support of women, homosexuals, and indigenous Australians. His success as an ‘organic’ working-class intellectual stemmed from his ability to present working-class ideas as representative of universal interests, and trade union work bans as activity on behalf of the whole of society. Mobilising an enthusiastic ‘subaltern counterpublic’ in support of bans, Mundey and his movement prompted a significant change in attitudes, creating a public mood much more critical of developers and development.