The New Faces of Earth Day: Working People in the Green Economy

The BlueGreen Alliance today said that working people are the new faces of Earth Day, and that Congress must pass the Employee Free Choice Act to ensure jobs in the clean energy economy are good, family-supporting green jobs.

April 22, 2009

BlueGreen Alliance: Clean Energy Economy Creates Jobs, Protects Environment

WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 22, 2009) As Americans celebrate Earth Day, and on the day President Barack Obama visited a Newton, Iowa to talk about clean energy, the BlueGreen Alliance today said that working people are the new faces of Earth Day, and that Congress must pass the Employee Free Choice Act to ensure jobs in the clean energy economy are good, family-supporting green jobs.

“The new faces of Earth Day are the working people who are assembling wind turbines, installing solar panels, and building hybrid-car batteries,” said Leo Gerard, International President of the United Steelworkers. “We will create millions of jobs in the clean energy economy – putting Americans back to work while at the same time addressing our biggest environmental challenge. What’s required now is action to make family-supporting jobs in this green economy a reality.”

“As we create jobs in the clean energy economy, we need a robust and skilled workforce,” said Carl Pope, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. “Protecting workers’ rights to organize is an essential part of building a clean energy economy that improves the environment and moves America toward energy independence.”

“We have to make sure that this new green economy works for everyone,” said Larry Cohen, President of the Communications Workers of America (CWA). “By passing the Employee Free Choice Act, working people in the green economy will have bargaining rights and the ability to negotiate a better life for their families.”

The Blue Green Alliance also highlighted union workers in the green economy:

  • Steelworkers are building wind turbines at a Gamesa plant in Ebensburg, Pennsylvania.
  • CWA members are building hybrid-car batteries at the Cobasys plant in Springboro, Ohio, and manufacturing low-emission and alternative-fuel buses at New Flyer in St. Cloud, Minnesota.
  • The Laborers’ union is working with the City of Newark and the community organization GANE to train local residents in energy-efficiency retrofitting.
  • SEIU Local 32BJ in New York City offers an energy-efficiency training program for building superintendents.

“Building America, and the middle class, is how we will transform our economy and our environment,” said Terence M. O’Sullivan, General President of the Laborers’ International Union of North America. “From retrofitting and weatherizing buildings to building a more efficient and environmentally friendly transportation system, the green economy will create jobs, and that is exactly what we need right now.”

“Union members are already building the green economy, from New York to Minnesota to California,” said Gerry Hudson, International Executive Vice President of SEIU. “In the face of crisis, we have an opportunity to create the kinds of jobs that connect environmental protection and economic justice in communities across the country.”

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The Blue Green Alliance is a national partnership of labor unions and environmental organizations dedicated to expanding the number and quality of jobs in the green economy. Visit us online at www.bluegreenalliance.org.