Green jobs aren’t just for white men

Bay Bridge pic

JUST BUILDING It's not just jobs for the white boys, say environmental justice groups.

Efforts in the US to see that women and people of colour also benefit from the green jobs bonanza appear to be bearing fruit.

A report in Working In These Times notes: “‘Green jobs’ has become the latest buzz-word, with stimulus monies pouring into green job creation programmes around the country. There is a window of opportunity to ensure equity, transparency, and accountability in the green economy, as demonstrated by emerging success stories.”

The report says there’s a lot of inequity to overcome. “Blacks and Latinos experience unemployment rates that are 70 and 50 per cent higher, respectively, than the rate for whites,” it says. “This is the green promise, that those communities most devastated by the recession — women and people of colour – can mobilise to ride the green wave.”

The online publication says there are examples of green equity success stories are emerging. And it says equity should include measures to ensure health and safety standards.

“In Los Angeles, a local chapter of the Apollo Alliance, convened by the community organisation Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education (SCOPE), won the passage of a green retrofit ordinance for municipal buildings that will create high quality jobs for communities of colour struggling with the economic crisis.

“Green for All worked with the city of Portland, Oregon to endorse a community workforce agreement to ensure the participation of local women and people of colour in residential retrofit projects. Growing Power in Milwaukee, Wisconsin has influenced public policy to promote urban agriculture and access to fresh produce and healthy food options for residents who are majority people of colour.”

Analysis by the Women of Color Policy Network showed that in the US Black and Latinos comprise less than 30 per cent of those employed in green industries and occupations. Gender disparities are even starker. Black women are employed in only 1.5 per cent of jobs in the energy sector, and it’s even worse for Latino and Asian women, who are employed at 1.0 per cent and 0.7 per cent, respectively.

Working In These Times notes: “Specific measures of equity include, but are not limited to, green jobs that provide at least a living wage and a clear pathway for professional development, elimination of employment barriers to people of colour such as those with prior convictions, and qualitative improvements to community and workplace health, safety, and environment.”

It adds: “Existing legal provisions must also be incorporated into new green jobs programmes and ordinances. Such laws will protect the rights of women and communities of colour as they enter the green economy. These include equal opportunity laws, affirmative action provisions, local hiring and training ordinances, wage and hour standards, and safety and health standards.”

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