Posted January 28, 2010 at 5:45 pm, in From Utility Workers Union of America
By Stewart Acuff
Chief of Staff and Assistant to the President, Utility Workers Union of America
Our economy is mired in the worst crisis we’ve had since the Great Depression. The one seemingly insurmountable barrier to reviving the economy is the lack of consumer demand caused by 30 years of stagnant and declining wages and now rising unemployment.
At the same time there is growing awareness that our continued reliance on fossil fuel energy generation is bad for our climate, bad for our economy, is ultimately unsustainable, and is harmful to our nation’s security and future. More and more Americans realize that unless we maximize the use of sustainable, domestic sources of energy, our future is threatened.
So we have arrived at the intersection of what is good for the economy is what is good for the environment. We realize now that there is not an inherent conflict between good jobs and a healthy climate and environment. In fact good jobs and a healthy environment complement one another.
It is very hard for the average worker to care about the environment if s/he is worried about how to provide dinner for the family or pay the rent on Friday.
Moving to sustainable energy generation means, among other things, wind farms in the natural wind tunnel through the heart of America, solar farms in the Southwest, installing solar panels, weatherization, retrofitting buildings, domestic manufacturing, carbon capture and sequestration for coal, and more.
Altogether we believe this work could create as many as 2 million good paying, middle class producing jobs.
It is critical that we are very intentional about how we create these jobs to ensure that they maximize the benefit to the economy and maximize the political constituencies they attract by pumping good wages into the pockets of working families to create more consumer demand and provide benefits essential to healthy families. These jobs must pay prevailing wages. Good jobs, a healthy environment, sustainable work, sustainable economy, sustainable environment. Now is the time.