MUST READ: “Clean Energy Is the Future—But to Get the Most Out of It, Wisconsin Workers Should Build the Infrastructure”
“Green energy requires fewer workers to operate, so it’s vital that construction for these industries be done by local workers with high-quality standards.”
Read the full piece here.
MADISON, Wis. – Today, in an op-ed for “Up North News,” Robb Kahl detailed the need to ensure strong labor standards in Wisconsin’s rapidly growing clean energy industry. Kahl is the executive director of Construction Business Group, a joint labor-management organization representing 30,000 trades workers and 4,000 contractors in Wisconsin. In the piece, Kahl highlights how a spate of new clean energy projects in development throughout Wisconsin offer a chance to meet the state’s ambitious climate goals by 2050, all while growing the state’s economy by $20 billion and creating 34,000 new jobs. Kahl underscored that strong labor standards are key to maximizing these benefits for Wisconsinites and ensuring jobs stay in the state.
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“Ensuring Wisconsin workers are hired to build these projects is paramount. Once online, these renewable energy facilities require fewer workers to maintain and operate than, for example, coal-fired plants. One recent analysis of two 150 megawatt (MW) solar power developments revealed that the use of out-of-state workers rather than Wisconsin workers would cost Wisconsin $91 million in lost economic activity and over 200 construction jobs.”
“These developments have the potential to rejuvenate local economies, but only if local, Wisconsin workers get the jobs. As other states have surged past us in terms of renewable energy developments, they’ve missed out on opportunities to maximize the economic benefits by letting developers rely on out-of-state laborers who spend their paycheck back home instead of in the communities they’re working in.”
“Simply put, there’s a ton of work that needs to be done to build this cleaner energy future. Every job required to complete that work on a solar or wind development in Wisconsin is an opportunity for a good job with family-sustaining wages and benefits, training, and strong health and safety protections. Which brings us back to the MEPI report, paying workers prevailing wages, instituting project labor agreements (PLAs), and ensuring responsible bidder provisions are standard operating procedures for these developments will create high-quality jobs without raising costs or impacting developers’ bottom lines.”
“The analysis by MEPI makes clear that workers and communities can and will benefit from the growing renewable energy economy in our state if we do it that way. The right way. It’s on all of us to let utility companies and policymakers know that’s what we all expect as we move our state forward. It’s the dawn of new energy day in Wisconsin.”