Right now, in legislative chambers across the country, lawmakers are making decisions every day about how our nation will address the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has exacerbated economic and social inequities in the U.S. At the same time, decisionmakers are putting forward policies to fight climate change—from clean energy standards to energy efficiency investments to aiding workers and communities impacted by shifts in their state’s energy mix—that are important to creating a healthier, more resilient future.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has determined that fighting climate change will “require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society,” but also that those changes “could go hand in hand with ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society.”16 We know that efforts to address climate change can create jobs, because they already do.
In 2018, nearly 3.3 million American workers were employed in energy efficiency, solar, wind, advanced and electric vehicles, and other segments of the clean economy. However, not enough of the new jobs that have been created or promised in the clean economy are the kind of high-quality, family-sustaining jobs that too many Americans are in desperate need of right now.
Only 4% of jobs in the solar PV industry, a sector that includes jobs in the manufacture, distribution, installation, and maintenance of solar PV power generation, are unionized jobs. This disconnect—between the potential job opportunities of a clean energy economy and the actual realities of those jobs—have made many labor interests reluctant to embrace clean energy. Unions affected by the decline of coal-fired power, for instance, have “yet to see evidence that the clean energy industry will replace the number and quality of jobs associated with utility-owned power plants.” It is imperative that smart policies be enacted to ensure that the jobs being created are good, union jobs.
To that end, the following toolkit provides information on a series of policies and measures, including Project Labor Agreements (PLAs), Prevailing Wage and Worker Benefits, Local Hire and Targeted Hire measures, and Organizing Rights and Negative Determination that can be used to ensure the creation of good, union jobs in the clean economy.