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Report: Green Jobs Must Be Good Jobs

February 4, 2009

Phoenix, AZ – Congress appears poised to include major funding for "green" jobs in the economic stimulus package - but a new report says those green jobs won't last if they don't offer decent pay and benefits. The report, by Good Jobs First, says the initiative will be unsustainable if all it offers are low pay and few benefits.

The executive director of the Arizona AFL-CIO, Rebekah Friend, says good wages are essential so workers can afford to buy and use green products.

"You have to be able to afford these products in order to keep the production of them going. You can still do some small things to address climate change, but if we want a really significant move toward helping the environment, you have to have a certain amount of people using the products or conserving energy with them."

The report says low-paid green workers won't be able to afford the high-efficiency houses or hybrid cars they produce. And without good-paying green jobs, political support for the green movement will evaporate.

The report urges governments at the federal and local levels to insist that employers benefiting from the green jobs program be held accountable for creating good jobs. Friend says accountability is essential.

"It doesn't do a community any good - and we've seen this with some big-box stores - when employers have come in and gotten subsidies, and then what they've provided is low-cost jobs and not paid the health care of those employees. That just adds to the burden of the taxpayers who provided the subsidy in the first place."

As America moves away from oil toward solar and wind energy, Friend says green jobs will become central to our economic future.

"I think this is an opportunity to create jobs that do have living wages and good benefits and working conditions for Americans, especially when we've been bleeding on the manufacturing side."

Friend says solar panel and wind turbine manufacturing will help restore America's leadership in the world economy.

The report is at www.goodjobsfirst.org

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ