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Green Jobs: Building A Clean Energy Workforce

Union Job Training Programs

Workers install solar panels.In New York City, Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) offers a training program for building superintendents and service workers to develop and maintain energy-efficient green buildings. The program helps promote environmentally-friendly geothermal residential heating and cooling systems, green cleaning products, as well as green engineering, construction, and custodial jobs. To date, the program has trained over 300 workers and has plans to train thousands more over the next few years.(1)

Local 68 of Denver, a branch of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), is increasing the scale of energy-efficient work by training members to work in fast-growing renewable energy sectors. Instructors focus on crucial elements in green technology, energy efficiency and renewable energy sectors such as photo-voltaic theory and solar and wind applications. Training centers work with employers to secure solar, wind and geothermal projects for their highly skilled, knowledgeable and safe workers. Local 68 has trained nearly 500 workers to date, with many in the 70 training centers IBEW sponsors nationwide.(2)

Often, the skills that workers have already learned on the job are needed to build the green economy. Members of Local 49 of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) have recently put their skills to work by building a wind turbine farm in Chandler, Minnesota. Union crane operators lifted turbines into place as other members dug trenches, installed transmission lines and configured grading.Gary Lindbald, Local 49's training director pointed out, "[w]hether an operator is lifting a column for a wind turbine or raising a high-efficiency heating and cooling system to the roof of a green building, he needs to know how to properly and safely control the crane. That's something we've been teaching for generations."(3)

Contact us for more information on the Sierra Club's work on Green Jobs Training.

  1. Featherstone, Liz. "Help Wanted for Green Jobs." The Nation, January, 28 2009.
  2. White House. "Middle Class Task Force: Green Jobs Update."
  3. "IBEW Green-Job Training Facilities Around the Country Open Their Doors to Public" IBEW News, June, 8 2009.

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