July 18, 2019

Senators Hirono, Merkley Introduce Legislation that would Create Good-Paying Jobs in a Green Economy

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and nine of their U.S. Senate colleagues introduced legislation to spur economic development and create jobs during the transition into a clean economy. As new and innovative opportunities in the clean energy, infrastructure, and technology sectors continue to grow, the Good Jobs for 21st Century Energy Act would provide tax credits to businesses and industries who adhere to pro-worker standards of living, such as high-quality benefits, living wages, and apprenticeship opportunities.

“In Hawaii, we know the power of setting ambitious clean energy goals. After pledging to generate 100 percent renewable energy by 2045, we have seen what we can do when we make bold investments and set ambitious goals,” Senator Hirono said. “The legislation we introduced today will provide incentives to pursue renewable projects in a way that supports American workers through strong labor protections and move us toward achieving our long-term energy goals.”

“As the son of a union mechanic, I know firsthand the power of a good job and a solid paycheck to provide for a family,” Senator Merkley said. “As the world transitions to clean and renewable energy, America has a huge opportunity to lead that transition, and to create millions of jobs in the process. We need to make sure the jobs powering our economy for the next century are good-paying, family-wage jobs.”

“This is the right bill at the right time to fight climate change and create the kind of family-sustaining jobs our country is desperate for,” Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO President, said. “For too long, the corporate right-wing—the polluters and the union-busters—conspired together to create a false choice: a raising wages economy or a clean environment. We can and must have both.”

“Confronting the climate crisis requires that we not only invest in clean energy, but also the hardworking men and women building the next-generation energy infrastructure,” Mustafa Santiago Ali, the National Wildlife Federation’s Vice President of Environmental Justice, Climate, and Community Revitalization, said. “When workers thrive, so do our families. When workers earn fair wages, then we can all take part in the prosperity of powering America’s energy future, in a way that honors our values. Senator Merkley’s bill and leadership embodies these simple, but profound, ideas.”

“The Good Jobs for 21st Century Energy Act is a key step to ensuring the jobs created by clean energy are good-paying jobs,” Jessica Eckdish, the BlueGreen Alliance’s Legislative Director, said. “We applaud Senator Merkley and the other co-sponsors of the bill for their vision and leadership. They understand that we do not have to choose between good jobs and a clean environment; we can and must have both.” 

Specifically, the Good Jobs for 21st Century Energy Act:

  • Establishes labor standards for projects in the clean energy sector by setting clear employment and safety standards through the Project Labor Agreement process. Companies that meet the labor standards set forth in the bill would also be eligible for additional tax incentives for their clean energy, manufacturing, or energy efficiency projects. The labor standards include paying at least prevailing wages and banning mandatory arbitration. Additionally, the legislation would require companies to be explicitly neutral on efforts to organize employees for collective bargaining.
  • Drives the development of American clean energy infrastructure and technology by creating a new 10 percent tax credit for qualifying clean energy generation facilities, carbon capture technologies, and extends and increases the tax credits for energy efficiency projects. The bill would also codify and expand the Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative, as well as provide grant funding to manufacturers to improve their own energy efficiency, energy use, and competitiveness. The legislation also calls for apprenticeship eligibility for at least 20 percent of all jobs in each craft.
  • Establishes a Clean Jobs Workforce Hub within the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative to convene unions, employers, and industry stakeholders to ensure adequate training and workforce development programs are in place to meet the needs of the clean energy future. Companies that meet the labor standards set forth in the bill would also be eligible for additional tax incentives for their clean energy, manufacturing, or energy efficiency projects. 

In addition to Senators Hirono and Merkley, the Good Jobs for 21st Century Energy Act is also cosponsored by Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.).

The Good Jobs for 21st Century Clean Energy Act is endorsed by AFL-CIO, the Blue Green Alliance, the United Steelworkers, Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA), the Union of Concerned Scientists, Data for Progress, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), and the United Association of Union Plumbers and Pipefitters of the United States and Canada.

A one-pager summarizing the bill is available here. The full bill text is available here.