(BCN) – As California’s economy reopens, union officials at a press conference Thursday morning called for a safe and equitable transition to a green economy for workers.
Union members virtually made their demands at the conference and also shared their thoughts on a new related report on California jobs from researchers at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
The study, led by economics professor Robert Pollin, says California can create 1 million new jobs annually by 2030 by investing in energy efficiency, clean renewables, manufacturing / infrastructure, and land remediation / agriculture.
“Our study shows how to get there,” said Pollin.
As California shifts to a greener economy, new jobs can be created while other jobs are lost.
The report says it takes $ 76 billion to create 416,000 jobs in energy efficiency and clean renewable energy, while it takes $ 62 billion to create 626,000 jobs in manufacturing / infrastructure and land restoration / agriculture create.
Pollin said about 112,000 workers are employed in California’s fossil fuel and bioenergy industries and that about 58,000 are projected to lose their jobs by 2030 if those two industries contract and coal use ends.
The damage could be most severe in Kern, Contra Costa and Los Angeles counties, where the study found that 50 percent of all fossil fuel job losses occur when the state’s fossil fuel industry signs contracts.
But with the investments Pollin’s team suggests, around 350,000 per year can be created.
About 320,000 of these will be created in Los Angeles County.
Some of the $ 138 billion to be invested would be used to help unemployed people get training and, if necessary, relocate to new jobs, according to the report.
About half, or $ 70 billion, of the total investment would come from public purse, while the other half would come from private investors.
If President Joseph Biden passes the US employment plan, it could provide $ 40 billion annually for investments in clean energy and infrastructure in California, covering about 60 percent of the $ 70 billion that may have to come from public funds.
“The Congress THRIVE agenda would allocate approximately $ 100 billion a year to the clean energy, infrastructure / manufacturing, and land restoration / agriculture programs we are describing,” the researchers said.
In addition, the state can borrow to supplement federal funding.
Union members who spoke at the press conference were excited about the prospect of a million new jobs, but they want them to be well-paying union jobs.
Some union members were sober about the prospect of an end to the fossil fuel industry.
Norman Rogers, vice president of United Steelworkers Local 675, said when working at a refinery, it is hard not to see the writing on the wall with cars like the Prius and Tesla on the street.
“Now is the time for a just transition,” he said.
He wants to ensure that employees who are about to retire, as well as young professionals and newcomers, are looked after.
Dave Campbell, Secretary and Treasurer of Local 675, said they were ready to take Pollin’s work to Governor Gavin Newsom to discuss “securing funding for this disaster relief and recovery package for fossil fuel workers in this budget cycle.”
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