Below is a letter from Jeremy Abrams, Business Manager of IBEW Local 569 sent to our members of Congress, in advocacy of a Green Economic Recovery.
Dear Congressmembers Susan Davis, Mike Levin, Scott Peters, and Juan Vargas:
On behalf of over 3,400 members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 569, I am writing to urge you to include renewable energy and clean transportation investments linked with strong labor requirements as key components in any infrastructure or economic recovery package moving forward.
In the wake of the Great Recession, the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provided historic funding for renewable energy. For IBEW Local 569, clean energy projects linked with Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) have created millions of work hours, new skilled training and union apprenticeship opportunities in the community. To date, IBEW 569 members have built over 2,000 MW of renewable energy representing nearly half of the load in our region. Because these projects were linked with labor agreements, they created high-road career opportunities with good benefits like healthcare. They also helped reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, which is essential in our battle against catastrophic climate change.
Similarly, clean transportation projects paired with strong labor requirements represent a substantial opportunity to reduce pollution and create good, middle-class jobs. According to the U.S. EPA, the transportation sector accounts for the largest portion of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Pollution from diesel vehicles has led to “diesel death zones” in Southern California where neighborhoods are inundated by dangerous fumes, especially in low-income, working-class and communities of color. Especially concerning, recent data has shown areas with high air pollution are more susceptible to the most severe impacts of COVID-19.
Electrifying transportation, especially medium and heavy-duty trucks, school and transit buses, can improve air quality and public health. Moreover, the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program (EVITP) is already preparing electricians to safely and properly install and maintain electric vehicle charging infrastructure and this training is required for major investor-owned utility programs in California and Nevada. The IBEW supports policies that ensure the installation of this infrastructure be made by properly certified professionals.
As Congress considers a future infrastructure or economic recovery package, we urge you to include financing such as cash grants, low-interest revolving loans and converting tax credits to direct cash payments for renewable energy and clean transportation linked with strong labor provisions including:
- Davis-Bacon prevailing wages requirements
- Explicit neutrality policy on collective bargaining issues
- Strong worker classification standards
- Clear employment and safety standards through PLAs
- Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program certification
- A domestic supply chain for national defense production and public procurement
- Expanded “Buy America” coverage
- Elimination of waivers and exemptions
As science tells us, humanity has less than 12 years to act to avert the worst effects of a climate disaster. We are running out of time. From severe storms to fire, drought and illness, we know the harsh impacts of climate change will disproportionately harm working-class and frontline communities, just like we have seen with COVID-19. We can and must take action to shape a healthier, safer, more economically-sound and just future. Including the key components outlined above in any infrastructure or economic recovery legislation will help to achieve this.
Thank you for your leadership and advocacy of policies and programs that benefit working families. If you have any follow-up questions or would like to collaborate further on developing good, green jobs and putting America back to work while combatting climate change, please be sure to contact us at IBEW 569.