Tuesday, February 10, 2009

AFL-CIO Center for Green Jobs

As part of the AFL-CIO union movement’s commitment to fighting for green jobs, President John Sweeney and other union leaders today announced a major program to help working Americans prepare for the next generation of jobs by creating a Center for Green Jobs.

Starting with $1 million from the Working for America Institute, the AFL-CIO’s workforce and economic development arm, the center will partner with affiliated unions to help pave the way to good union jobs in a variety of the country’s unionized and greening industries. The center also will spread the lessons of AFL-CIO affiliates who have successfully joined the green economy, especially in manufacturing.

At a packed press conference this morning in Washington, D.C., Sweeney said the center is part of the AFL-CIO’s effort to “make progressive energy and climate change a first order priority.”

The mission of the center is not only to engage public policy but to also move beyond that to help our labor unions implement real green jobs initiatives—initiatives that retain and create good union jobs, provide pathways to those jobs and assist with the design and implementation of training programs to prepare incumbent workers as well as job seekers for these family-sustaining careers.

It is a think-do tank that will be a one-stop shop for our affiliates and partners, providing information and technical assistance on public policy, consortium development, workforce and economic development programs, economic analysis and even curriculum development.

The announcement coincides with the Green Jobs, Good Jobs National Conference in Washington from Feb. 4-6.

The Center for Green Jobs already has joined with the AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department (BCTD) in its efforts to help construction unions recruit and train the “green workers” for tomorrow’s jobs.

The BCTD is working to engage its more than 1,100 training programs to create the skilled workforce needed for a clean energy future and provide new opportunities to join the middle class for workers in underserved communities, nontraditional workers, and communities of color.

At the press conference, BCTD President Mark Ayers held up a picture of his grandchildren and said the best reason to work together on environmental and economic issues is for the future generations.

A lot has been said recently about green jobs. But that conversation has been far too focused on the potential quantity of these jobs.

The core mission of the Center for Green Jobs will be to cultivate an equal focus on the quality of those jobs and to ensure that they are available to all Americans.

The Center also has formed a partnership with the National Labor College to develop a “green” certificate program for students of the college.

--James Parks, AFL-CIO NOW BLOG, Feb 5, 2009

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