Rally supports green jobs to boost economy

Monday, September 15, 2008

From an article by Kristin Czubkowski in The Capital Times:

Union T-shirts and baseball caps mingled with organic sweatshirts and dreadlocks Saturday afternoon as leaders from local environmental and labor groups met in a rally for promoting jobs in renewable energy.

Speakers at the rally argued that by the federal and state governments investing in projects that would promote cleaner energy and more energy efficiency, more than 2 million jobs would be created in the country, including 37,000 in Dane County.

"We've heard that for a long time, that that's why we can't have more renewable energy jobs, we can't solve global warming without losing jobs. We're kind of saying, 'No, it's exactly the opposite of that,' " said United Steelworkers member Chuck Geiger.

The numbers listed at the rally came from a report by the Blue Green Alliance -- a combination of United Steelworkers and Sierra Club members -- that was released earlier this week with research from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Researchers found that the jobs could be created by putting $100 billion into a green investment program, equal to the amount returned to U.S. residents in the April 2008 federal stimulus package.

From getting roofers and carpenters to retrofit buildings to be more energy efficient to getting steelworkers and machinists to build wind turbines for renewable energy, Geiger said that the technology is there for creating more union jobs.

"These aren't like these futuristic jobs that are so far out there -- these are jobs that people are already doing right now," he said. "It's just a matter of applying them to a green purpose."

Investing in green energy is more than just helping the environment and creating jobs, however, said Satya Rhodes-Conway of the Center of Wisconsin Strategy's Apollo Alliance. It's about creating good jobs, making enlisting unions in the movement important.