As the U.S. moves away from fossil fuels and begins investing in green, renewable energy infrastructure, it will be important to invest in creating good-paying jobs in this industry as well.
Illinois is one of the state’s leading the way in creating jobs in these industries and allowing their economy to smoothly transition. Illinois AFL-CIO President Tim Drea discussed how his state is working towards a smooth transition, while protecting jobs and more.
Clean Jobs Illinois
AWF Union Podcast has previously had guests discuss Clean Jobs Illinois, a coalition dedicated to helping Illinois achieve carbon free electrical generation over the next few years.
Drea said Clean Jobs Illinois will ensure that solar installations are completed in a safe manner so they are a reliable investment. The main goal is making sure people will have reliable power in any condition.
The initiative also seeks to ensure the labor used in the green energy industry is the best available. He said this will mean a union presence is important. Union job sites tend to be safer for workers thanks to extensive training and presence of safety officials.
Drea said the coalition identified that fossil fuels will eventually run out. He stressed the importance of preparing for it now so any issues can be addressed now and in the near future.
Many people worry that a switch to green energy will destroy jobs and put thousands out of work. However, Drea does not believe this to be entirely true, as a new industry will bring new jobs.
He estimated that over the next 25 to 30 years, the green energy industry will usher in 30,000 new jobs, including many in the trades.
He said he hopes these jobs will attract the young people who are often told they need a college degree in order to make a quality living, which is not true. If these new jobs are unionized, they will provide earn while you learn training, benefits and quality wages.