If the nation’s economy is to truly recover, the funds from President Obama’s economic recovery package—the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act—must be spent in ways that keep working families’ needs in mind and create a foundation for their future.
To ensure the jobs created under the bill are family-supporting jobs, the AFL-CIO Working for America Institute (WAI) and its brand-new Center for Green Jobs have created standards to help community-level unionists assess the quality of jobs created under the recovery act. They also are urging the forming of new partnerships among employers, government, labor, community groups, environmentalists and other stakeholders to make sure the standards are carried out.
Green Jobs Center Director Jeff Rickert says standards are important because
we have to make sure that the idea of the green job is that it is a good job. The blue-collar job was the cornerstone of the golden era. We want to make sure the green collar job is the cornerstone of a platinum one.
The standards include:
- Jobs created by the legislation should be enduring, family-sustaining jobs, in work environments where employers remain neutral when workers seek to join a union. Construction jobs should pay the prevailing wage. And the jobs should provide family-supporting wages, health care and retirement security.
- Employers who receive funds under the act should demonstrate a proven commitment to sound stewardship of public dollars.
- Training and education programs that claim to help workers and future workers qualify for these jobs should be quality ones that offer portable credentials in the rapidly changing job market; have a record of achieving quality job placements; and prepare current and future workers with the education and skills to continuously improve energy and environmental practices.
- Jobs and training programs supported by the act should provide affirmative outreach to communities of color and to other disadvantaged job seekers.
- The benefit of investments under the bill should accrue to businesses that employ workers here in the United States.
- To the extent possible, the jobs created should lower overall greenhouse gas emissions and create positive environmental returns.
Speaking to the first meeting of Vice President Biden’s Middle Class Task Force in Philadelphia late last month, United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard emphasized that any new green job also must be a good job.
To rebuild our middle class, we must also be sure that the jobs created in this new, green economy are good jobs with family-supporting wages and benefits, that we maximize the number of jobs created in this economy, and that these jobs truly contribute to the protection of our environment for future generations of Americans.
James Parks, AFL-CIO NOW BLOG, 3-11-2009