Organized Labor Embracing a Green Economy?

The American environmental and labor movements have often been on opposite sides of the table, whether the issue is drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or raising fuel economy standards on American-made cars. That may be changing, though, as organized labor sees the potential of job growth in renewable energy generation and more efficient building design. According to last Thursday's Christian Science Monitor,

Union leaders are betting that a green economy will not only address the issue of climate change, it will also provide a bonanza of well-paying manufacturing jobs – the kinds of jobs that have largely vanished from the United States in recent decades. A proliferation of wind turbines and solar panels means more factories, while ever more stringent efficiency standards imply the need for inspectors and experts in sealing and insulating.

"From labor unions' point of view, these are the kinds of jobs their unions are most prepared for," says Jeff Rickert, vice president of the Apollo Alliance, a coalition of the major environmental and labor organizations.

Having worked in steel mills and paper plants, many in the workforce already possess the appropriate skill set, say labor leaders. All that's needed are incentives at the federal level, and America will be well on its way toward what some call a "third industrial revolution."

"This is like the transition from an agricultural economy to an industrial economy," says Robert Borosage, president of the Institute for America's Future, a progressive think tank. "It has the potential for massive growth."

While manufacturing facilities for renewable generation equipment are popping up around the country, the Apollo Alliance's Joel Rogers believes that workers who can help building owners and managers use less energy through efficiency measures will be in the highest demand. Those jobs, of course, can't be outsourced to other countries, either... ::The Christian Science Monitor via BioConversion Blog

Tags: Energy Efficiency | Jobs | Renewable Energy