Sunday, September 28, 2008

Green Jobs Now!

AFSCME Local 965 was represented at the Green Jobs Now! rally on the Fayetteville square yesterday. We recognize that nationally the economic, energy, and climate crises we face are all connected, and we argued that Green Jobs can help solve all three, because changing patterns of employment and investment resulting from efforts to reduce climate change and its effects are already generating new jobs.

We also know that many of these new jobs can be dirty, dangerous, and difficult. For example, in the recycling industry, all too often low pay, insecure employment contracts, and exposure to health hazardous materials need to be addressed and changed fast. Green jobs need to be decent work that pays a living wage, and strong unions can help assure that.

There are millions of people ready and willing to work and countless jobs to be done that will strengthen our economy at home. There are thousands of buildings that need to be weatherized, solar panels to be installed, and wind turbines to be erected. Renewable energy generates more jobs than employment in fossil fuels. A program to retrofit homes can create quality jobs and put energy bill savings back in the pockets of working families.

One of the best things about green jobs is that they're domestic jobs that strengthen our national and local economy. Green jobs like installing solar panels, assembling wind turbines, cleaning up brownfields, and weatherizing buildings can't be outsourced overseas. We should be able to count on our elected officials at all levels to support and finance green job training programs and sustainable economic development initiatives in Northwest Arkansas.

It is disappointing that the joint effort by the University of Arkansas and the City of Fayetteville to spend $150,000 to create an economic development plan for our city ignores the workforce that will be performing the Green Jobs of the future. The hired consultants will be here next month to interview University administrators, bankers, business owners, city officials, and Chamber of Commerce officers. They have scheduled no time to talk with workers or local labor organizations. It will be the usual top-down and generally unsuccessful plan that ignores the interests and ideas of workers in our local economy.

Meaningful social dialogue between government, workers, and employers will be essential to support better informed and more coherent environmental, economic and social policies, but all social partners must be involved in the development of such public policies. Any realistic plan for a Green Jobs economy can only be deployed effectively with qualified entrepreneurs and skilled workers participating in that process from planning to production. It will be successful only with joint labor-management initiatives to create green workplaces and green work products, so workers deserve and expect a seat at the table when our tax dollars are invested in building the local economy. It is unfortunate that those behind the current planning process ignore workers and their organizations and pretend that the employees who would hold Green Jobs have nothing to say worth their time to listen and consider.


Ray said...

Despite the stats, I see so many high paying jobs posted on employment sites - many are green too. (networking) (aggregated listings) (matches you to jobs)

I see 100K, 150K and 200K jobs. For those that know where to look, they will find great jobs.

ada said...

The Green Collar Economy by Van Jones (the president of Green For All) is a NYTimes bestseller!

Thanks for being a part of the amazing grassroots effort to spread the word about green jobs. This is the first bestseller by an African American on "green" issues. Read about the it here:

Please spread the word, and let everyone know: this is a movement.