USA: Unions lead the way to a green economy

America’s future is green and the union movement is in the forefront of creating a new green economy, says AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker. Speaking to the A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI) education conference in Phoenix last week, Holt Baker said: 

“One of our biggest opportunities lies in the creation of green jobs, and a new vision of America that our labor movement is helping make happen.”

She credited many unions for undertaking green initiatives, including the United Steelworkers (USW), the UAW, AFT, AFSCME and the building trades. She also pointed to the institute’s Center for Green Jobs and APRI’s new computer learning lab in Pittsburgh as examples of the ways in which unions are preparing workers for a green economy.

She said she “was never so excited” than she was when she visited the Pittsburgh Public Housing Authority and saw the public housing residents in the APRI Computer Learning Lab learning computer skills and other young people going through basic OSHA [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] training taught by Steelworkers health and safety instructors.

They are being prepared for a green future and we all can agree that, at the end of the day, the only color that matters is green. We’re especially proud that APRI is working with the Center for Green Jobs to get additional federal support for creating pathways out of poverty for low-income and under-served communities.

The Obama administration has estimated 5 million jobs (direct and indirect) can be created by a $150 billion, 10-year investment. Green Jobs for America reports that hybrid and other clean cars, public transportation, efficient heating and lighting systems and clean renewable power plants can create more than 1.4 million new jobs.

In addition, the administration has made $150 million available to help create green jobs in areas of high poverty. National, state and local partnerships that include non-profits, labor organizations, employers, education and training facilities and public workforce groups are eligible for the grants. Says Holt Baker:

That is real money, to help solve problems, and help put real people to work.

You can read excerpts from Holt Baker’s speech on the AFL-CIO Working For America Institute website here.

AFL-CIO Now blog.

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