BlueGreen Alliance

Good Jobs, Clean Environment, Green Economy

Posts About Trade/Make it in America

The following blog by Kenneth Quinnell was originally posted in the AFL-CIO Now Blog. The original post is available online here


A bill promoting Fast Track authority for international trade deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership failed to gather enough votes to advance today. On a largely party-line vote, the measure got 52 votes, eight short of the 60 needed to overcome a possible filibuster and bring the legislation to the floor.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said the outcome was a temporary victory:

The Hatch-Wyden-Ryan Fast Track bill is halted—for now. That’s good news for America’s working families, domestic producers and communities. We appreciate those senators who stood with working people today against a bill that would have led to undemocratic trade deals that lower wages and eliminate jobs. This vote sends a message loud and clear.

If Congress is serious about creating jobs, reviving U.S. manufacturing and raising wages, it needs to use its leverage to reshape the terms of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It must remove special legal privileges for foreign investors, add enforceable rules to prevent currency manipulation, strengthen rules of origin and redouble efforts to ensure workers everywhere—from Hannibal, Mo., to Hanoi, Vietnam—can organize and bargain collectively.


Posted In: Trade/Make it in America

This post was originally published by AFSCME

Union members and allies raised their voices in loud protest Thursday to oppose so-called Fast Track authority to pass a multination trade agreement that would ship good-paying American jobs to Asia, Central America and other low-wage regions, pushing down wages of U.S. workers.

“We’re going to stop Fast Track in its tracks and then we’re going to make sure that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and every other trade deal, is in the open, so our elected representatives can make them good trade deals,” said AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Shuler, who officiated at the rally in the lobby of the AFL-CIO in Washington, D.C.

“We say ‘no’ to Fast Track, we say ‘yes’ to fair trade,” declared Larry Cohen, president of the Communications Workers of America (CWA). “We’re tired of the race to the bottom, we’re tired of an $11 trillion trade deficit in the United States. That deficit is Baltimore, it’s St. Louis, it’s my old neighborhood in Philadelphia, it’s every city in America.

Cohen and other labor leaders invoked May Day, International Workers’ Day, and they were joined by allies from immigrant rights groups who said the trade deal is bad for workers in other countries as well. Previous fast-tracked trade deals have pushed Central American farmers off their land, forcing them to migrate north to find jobs.

The union officials and members of Congress, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), have complained about the secretive nature of the Fast Track process, which allows trade negotiations to be conducted behind closed doors, preventing scrutiny by the public and meaningful input by Congress.

The bill authorizing the Fast Track process was approved recently by the Senate Finance Committee. Lawmakers in both houses are expected to vote on it in May, and both Shuler and Cohen noted that we are making progress in convincing legislators on both sides of the aisle to vote against Fast Track.

The 12 countries that comprise the agreement make up 40% of the world’s economy. They are: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.

Send a message to stop the Fast Track train wreck! Also, click here to learn more about TPP, and check out this video by the AFL-CIO that explains the impact of TPP.

Posted In: Trade/Make it in America

The following blog has been cross-posted from the USW's blog. The original post is available online here.  

Posted In: Trade/Make it in America, United Steelworkers

The following blog has been cross-posted from CWA's Reistence Growing blog. The original post is available online here

Posted In: Trade/Make it in America, Communications Workers of America

The following blog was originally posted on the Communications Workers of America website.

At the Good Jobs, Green Jobs Conference, union and green activists focused on how to beat "fast track" authority and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an IUE-CWA program to help manufacturing plants save energy and become more efficient, and how sustainable planning in the aviation industry can help improve communities.

AFA-CWA International President Veda Shook and Lourdes Maurice, Executive Director for the Federal Aviation Administration's Energy and Environment Office, moderated a discussion that addressed the airline industry and global greenhouse gases, climate change and ways to improve the aviation industry with a focus on smart planning.

IUE-CWA President Jim Clark and members highlighted the sector's partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund that works with management and workers to identify and implement energy saving opportunities at manufacturing facilities.

Also spotlighted was IUE-CWA's Lean/High Performance Manufacturing program, which looks at organizing production to lower costs, eliminate waste, improve quality and keep good jobs.

CWA Senior Director George Kohl, with the Sierra Club and the National Resources Defense Council, outlined the critical fight to stop fast track authority for the Trans Pacific Partnership. About 30 CWA and IUE-CWA activists participated.

Posted In: Trade/Make it in America, Communications Workers of America

The following blog—Roxanne Johnson, Research Analyst for the BlueGreen Alliance Foundation—was originally posted on the Good Jobs, Green Jobs Meeting Point blog.

Photo Info: Programs that helped rapidly retool American factories to build the most efficient vehicle technology – like at Ford’s Louisville Assembly Plant in Kentucky – enhanced the jobs benefits from fuel economy standards.  Photo: Sam VarnHagen/ Ford Motor Co.

The workshop session Delivering on Jobs Promises on day one of the Good Jobs, Green Jobs Conference talked about how investments and policy have successfully created jobs in the past, as well as how job creation remains a challenge in the future.  A few ideas really stuck with me:

We can’t just assume we’ll build jobs

Moderator Zoe Lipman, Senior Policy Advisor to the BlueGreen Alliance, started off by citing the auto rescue as a huge success in revitalizing an industry facing bankruptcy. The rescue and the forward-looking fuel economy standards helped drive demand for new vehicles as well as allow us to realize environmental benefits from increased fuel efficiency. One thing she said that really stood out to me was that we can’t just assume that the jobs would be created automatically; in this case it was the manufacturing incentives included in the rescue that ensured the retooling of U.S. manufacturers and allowed for continued domestic production of these more fuel-efficient cars and light trucks.

We can compete in solar, and labor costs aren’t the problem

The next panelist Libby Wayman, Director of Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative at the Department of Energy (DOE), discussed all the work that the DOE is doing to support clean energy manufacturing and the related jobs benefits. She mentioned how individual policies and tools are less effective than the portfolio of policies and programs they are pulling together from across agencies. My favorite part was when she presented a chart that showed a competitiveness analysis that compared solar panel production in the U.S. compared to production in China. The chart highlighted discrepancies and showed where the costs could change in our favor—basically pointing towards where policies could make a significant difference. She also pointed out that contrary to popular belief, labor costs were not one of the major discrepancies. This kind of analysis is vital to our understanding of markets and production, which can inform the design of better policies as well as help companies make more strategic clean energy manufacturing decisions.

We should avoid bridges to nowhere, jobs-wise

Photo Info: Use of 100 percent foreign steel for the multi-billion dollar taxpayer funded San Francisco Bay Bridge repair meant fewer U.S. jobs and resulted in quality problems, delays, and cost overruns. Photo used under Creative Commons, by Flickr User avrene.

Brian Lombardozzi, Vice President for State Government Affairs at the Alliance for American Manufacturing, talked about trade and the importance of making sure that any incentives include some way to guarantee that investments are made in the U.S. so that all of the jobs benefits are realized here—not just jobs that result directly and on-site from investment like construction and installation. He discussed Buy America provisions and the fact that the Bay Bridge in San Francisco and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge in New York were built with Chinese steel. He stressed the importance of indirect jobs—like manufacturing—which were not created by those two large infrastructure projects because they used Chinese steel products. He also discussed the environmental impact of outsourcing. For example, steel produced in China simply doesn’t meet the same strict environmental regulations we have here and it is also more carbon intensive. Another interesting snippet he told us was that a poll had found that the public perceives U.S. policies as the main impediment for creating American jobs.

We can do better in modeling and measuring jobs, too

Casey Bell, Senior Economic Analyst at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, talked about jobs modeling and measurement, which is one of my all-time favorite topics. While her presentation was focused on a new standardized method for energy efficiency programs to report on job creation, I was far more interested in her remarks about jobs modeling. One message I got from her talk was about modeling: if you put garbage in, you get garbage out. There have been complaints about jobs models not returning accurate results and green jobs not actually being realized, but I suspect that at least part of the problem is in understanding what the assumptions of the model mean. For example, Casey mentioned that the IMPLAN model is set up in a way that assumes a fully functional economy— i.e., no unemployment. Reality obviously looks different from the model, so my take home was that we just need to be careful when thinking about what the models can and can’t tell us. 

This panel was an interesting conversation about what it means when we talk about job creation, how we estimate or measure it, and how we can consider ways to maximize that job creation using investments or policy.

Posted In: Trade/Make it in America

Let’s not fold on environmental protections and protecting working families as we negotiate a new trade deal. 

What good are better environmental protections and improved living standards for us all if, when pressed, they’re the first thing up for negotiation? That’s where we’re headed with regard to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. The idea that we’d negotiate such a trade agreement behind closed doors and under restrictive deadlines by fast-tracking negotiations doesn’t set the stage for success either. Americans deserve to hear everything they’d be getting, and giving up, by fast-tracking the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. 

This week, the Senate Finance Committee heard from the Communications Workers of America’s President Larry Cohen during a hearing on how Congress should negotiate this and other trade agreements. The concerns he expresses in his testimony are warranted. Besides the impact the TPP would have on environmental standards and basic quality of life for millions of Americans, a new trade deal shouldn’t add to the deficit, shouldn’t diminish consumer protections, should comply with all International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions and more.

Cohen testified “We struggle and fight to hold on to the hard-won gains of years past even as the companies score record profits and CEOs’ pay is at astronomical highs. We need to recognize the role that trade agreements have played in creating this situation. 

See his full testimony below: 

We can’t afford to stand for these values within our own borders and fall back on our demands when pressured to do so. 

Speaking to the environmental implications, Cohen said, “It also does nothing to protect our environmental and climate policies from attack by foreign corporations or to put less stress on our scarce natural resources. More must be done to ensure that trade agreements don’t become a global race to the bottom on the environment.” 

The bad deal Americans would be getting by fast-tracking TPP authority doesn’t end there. Cohen voiced similar concerns about a race to the bottom with regard to fair labor standards, “It’s troubling to us that while previous discussions around Fast Track and negotiating principles have mentioned International Labor Organization (ILO) standards as a benchmark, the U.S. has endorsed few of those very standards itself.” 

There’s no denying that trade is an essential force in our economy. However, we must do more to be sure it’s not setting us back in the long term. Lawmakers would do well to show a little more determination in protecting transparency, consumer and environmental protections, fair labor standards and much more, so that our democracy doesn’t fall by the wayside today or any time soon.  










Posted In: Trade/Make it in America, Communications Workers of America

The following blog is by Brian Lombardozzi, Senior Policy Analyst for the BlueGreen Alliance. 

On Tuesday March 26th the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) launched the Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative (CEMI). This initiative is part of the Obama administration’s commitment to revitalizing America’s manufacturing sector and will focus on growing American manufacturing of clean energy products and boosting U.S. competitiveness through major improvements in manufacturing energy productivity. CEMI includes private sector partnerships, new funding from the DOE, and enhanced analysis of the clean energy manufacturing supply chain that will guide DOE’s future funding decisions. 

While many components of clean energy industry have been around for years, the concept of a distinct clean energy sector is relatively new. The concept and terminology dates to the early 2000s when concerns about climate change, energy security, and other factors helped stimulate the growth of a diverse set of clean energy industries. Since then, the clean energy sector has become a major economic force in its own right, and this initiative comes at a critical moment as global investment in the clean energy sector has grown nearly five-fold to over $260 billion in the last seven years and these markets will grow into the trillions of dollars in the years to come. Now is the time for the U.S. to assure that the energy technologies of the future are developed and manufactured in America for export around the world. 

Shortly after the CEMI launch, DOE on Wednesday conducted a webinar, offering more detail on the areas of clean energy manufacturing that are especially ripe for growth. Libby Wayman, Director of CEMI provided information on the initiative. Alan Goodrich and Ted James of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory gave a presentation on some of the analysis related to the wind, solar and batter industries. This type of industry analysis showing how the US can move ahead in these industries is one segment of services that CEMI will offer. There were about 150 participants who posed questions to the presenters. The webinar is available online here

Approximately 26 percent of all jobs in the clean energy sector are involved in manufacturing, compared to just 9 percent of jobs in the economy as a whole. Manufacturing accounts for a majority of the jobs in over half of the clean energy sector. Several segments—including electric vehicle technologies, water efficient products, green chemical products, appliances, sustainable forestry products, lighting, recycled-content products, and energy-saving consumer products—are particularly manufacturing intensive, with roughly 90 percent or more of their jobs residing in manufacturing establishments. Manufacturing represents more than two-thirds of the jobs in the solar-related and wind energy segments as well. 

The share of all manufacturing jobs engaged in clean energy sector production is also on the rise. From 2003 to 2010, clean energy manufacturers added 35,832, while U.S. manufacturers overall laid off 3.3 million workers. Clean economy manufacturing employment expanded at a rate of 0.8 percent each year (or 5.5 percent over the entire period); meanwhile, U.S. manufacturers at large shed jobs at a rate of 1.5 percent per year (for a growth rate of -10.1 percent over the period). 

Like most manufacturing-intensive sectors, the clean energy sector is export intensive. In fact, on a per job basis, the clean economy is about twice as export-oriented as the national economy. According to one estimate, some $20,129 worth of exports is sold for every job in the clean economy, compared to just $10,390 in exports for the average U.S. job.

With the Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative, DOE is taking the appropriate steps to seize this opportunity to ensure U.S. leadership in the clean energy sector and advance the global competitiveness of American manufacturers. These steps will include:

Staff at the Clean Energy Manufacturing Center (CEMC) will continue to engage MEP Centers and manufacturing companies on potential diversification and growth opportunities for manufacturing companies related to the CEMI.

Posted In: Trade/Make it in America

This blog is cross-posted from the Good Jobs, Green Jobs conference blog.

We are proud to have sponsors for the Good Jobs, Green Jobs Conference ranging from large, multi-national corporations to small start-ups. All of these organizations and business have recognized our conference as an important resource and networking tool, and we are exciting to hear when they have taking a new step to be more sustainable and profitable.

That is why we wanted to share the news that International Paper joined the Global Forest & Trade Network in North America, one of World Wildlife Fund (WWF)’s initiatives focused on eliminating illegal logging and promoting environmentally and socially responsible forest management.

International Paper's Vice President of Sustainability Teri Shanahan stated, “By joining GFTN and increasing its sourcing of credibly certified fiber, International Paper — as the world's largest paper and packaging company  — can use its purchasing power to drive improvements in responsible forestry around the globe. This kind of leadership is critical to conserving the places and species we are working so hard to protect.”

This is the kind of commitment our sponsors are making to the development of a cleaner, more efficient economy where smart business practices go hand-in-hand with environmental responsibility.

We applaud International Paper and look forward to hearing more from them at the Conference during the “Boosting the Bottom Line with Environmental and Labor Innovation” plenary session on Thursday.

Posted In: Trade/Make it in America

The following blog is written by Amber Scott, Legislative Intern for the BlueGreen Alliance. 

While Congress is struggling to find a path forward on pressing fiscal matters, a few of our House and Senate champions are hard at work, introducing several key bills in recent days to spur job creation, strengthen American manufacturing and expand the clean energy economy. 

When first introduced, the Advanced Vehicle Technology Act had wide bipartisan support in the House of Representatives, and was endorsed by numerous automobile manufacturers and environmental groups. It is now being reintroduced by Michigan Congressman Gary Peters and Senator Debbie Stabenow in a bicameral effort to direct nearly $3 billion to the Department of Energy for research and development of advanced vehicle technology, to include U.S. made-battery and electric drive components that will significantly improve efficiency in our nation’s vehicle fleet. The bill also seeks to advance state and local initiatives in developing and promoting advanced vehicle technologies, manufacturing, and infrastructure. The bill would enable progress across the U.S. auto industry, covering light-duty passenger vehicles to heavy-duty trucks and buses. 

By incentivizing the development of homegrown advanced vehicle technology, the bill would help meet strong fuel efficiency standards and diversify and expand the alternative fuel market. Continued technology development would also lead to more affordable fuel and reduced dependence on foreign oil. The bill also creates job opportunities in American manufacturing and infrastructure expansion, especially among highly skilled positions, and seeks to bridge high quality job applicants with manufacturing employment needs through groundbreaking workforce development initiatives. The bill’s release is complemented with another bill in the Senate that focuses on job creation and on growing the American industry sector. 

A bill that specifically targets American manufacturing was released late last week by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY). Senator Gillibrand’s Made in America Manufacturing Act establishes a program for a joint award of incentives that grants to a state or a regional partnership support for the U.S. manufacturing industry. Recently, a lack of capital funding has inhibited the growth and cultivation of the manufacturing industry; a key point that should to change. This competitive award will provide low-interest loans to build facilities, upgrade equipment, and increase access to capital and technical assistance. Funds will also be directed toward workforce development and vocational programs to prepare the workforce for quality jobs in manufacturing. The workforce training is critical, because according to a 2011 survey by the Manufacturing Institute, over 600,000 manufacturing jobs went unfilled due to the short supply of skilled workers. 

The Invest in American Jobs Act introduced by Ranking Member Nick Rahall (WV) of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Tuesday, closes loopholes on Buy American requirements within the scope of public transportation and infrastructure, specifically for highways, bridge, passenger rail services, aviation programs. It also expands Buy American requirements to other infrastructure investments such as water and aviation, including infrastructure grants, loans, loan guarantees, and state revolving funds. By ensuring all of the steel, iron, and manufactured goods used in these projects is produced in the U.S., Buy America requirements assure that U.S. taxpayer dollars contribute to quality, good paying jobs here in the U.S. instead of overseas. 

All three of these bills address critical issues in the current state of the manufacturing industry, and seek to strengthen and expand it for a more competitive and healthy U.S. economy. 

Posted In: Clean Energy, Trade/Make it in America
« Show Older Posts