To celebrate Earth Day, the AFL-CIO, together with the leadership of its new Center for Green Jobs, announced a plan to reduce energy consumption, cut down waste and reduce the carbon footprint of its national headquarters.
With green jobs emerging as a top public policy priority, the AFL-CIO is pushing to ensure that the new green jobs created are also good jobs that provide a decent wage and benefits.
Says Jeff Rickert, director of the Working for America Institute’s Center for Green Jobs:
It’s like the old saying goes, the AFL-CIO is thinking globally and acting locally, but doing so in a way that demonstrates how to use strategic investments that help the environment while relying on high-skilled work.
The specific steps we at the AFL-CIO are taking to green up our building include:
- Conducting a comprehensive energy audit to identify waste, lower overall energy usage and set the stage for a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification of our building in downtown Washington, D.C.
- Phasing out the use of Styrofoam and moving to union-made, 100 percent biodegradable containers.
- Convening a committee of union building managers to share best practices in green and energy efficient building management.
All of these energy savings measures and environmentally friendly initiatives will be conducted by union workers and the initiatives will lead to financial savings for the federation over the long term.
Not only is the AFL-CIO taking steps toward energy efficiency and protecting the environment, our upcoming convention is set for Pittsburgh’s David Lawrence Convention Center, the only entirely green convention center in the country.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports green jobs are becoming more popular. Community colleges across the country are seeing a surge of unemployed workers enrolling in courses that offer training for green jobs and teach students how to install solar panels, repair wind turbines, produce biofuels and do other work related to renewable energy.
The AFL-CIO and the union movement are working to ensure these new green jobs are good jobs by fighting for the right of every worker to freely choose a union by supporting the Employee Free Choice Act.
Speaking to a meeting of Vice President Biden’s Middle Class Task Force in February, United Steelworkers (USW) President Leo Gerard said any new green jobs also must be good jobs.
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.
A recent report, “High Road or Low Road? Job Quality in the New Green Economy,” by the grassroots community organization Good Jobs First, outlines strategies to ensure that green jobs are good jobs. The report found examples of employers who manufacture efficient energy systems that pay their workers a decent wage and treat them with respect. Click here to read the report.
The Good Jobs First report is one of several recent studies that discuss the impact of green jobs on the economy. The Center for Green Jobs last month created standards to help community-level unionists assess the quality of jobs created under the recovery act. The Center for Green Jobs also is urging the forming of new partnerships among employers, government, labor, community groups, environmentalists and other stakeholders to make sure the standards are carried out.
To find out more about green jobs and how they can be a key part of restoring our economy, visit the green jobs section of the AFL-CIO website here.