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Labor, Community, and Environmental Groups Demand Job Quality & Equity Standards on State and Federal Investments

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Unai Montes, Unai@calaborfed.org, 310.962.7369 (Bilingual)

Labor, Community, and Environmental Groups Demand Job Quality & Equity Standards on State and Federal Investments 

Coalition Urges Policymakers to Adopt Strong Labor Standards with Community Benefits as Billions in Federal Infrastructure, Manufacturing, and Climate Funding Come to California

 Sacramento, CA – (Thursday, March 28, 2024) – Representatives from the California Labor Federation, UAW, Jobs to Move America, the Blue Green Alliance and a coalition of unions, community, and environmental groups spoke at the Workforce Development Board in Los Angeles, Oakland, and Sacramento on how the state can lead the country on not just climate, but on creating good union jobs that build a new path to the middle class. 

California is poised to receive billions of dollars in federal funding to strengthen the state from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), and CHIPS and Science Act. This once-in-a-generation funding will reach across industry and region to build out California’s transportation, climate, and energy infrastructure over the next decade. While some job quality and worker protections exist for construction projects, many of these policies do not extend to the manufacturing industry, leaving no guarantee that the manufacturing jobs created by all of this investment will be good, safe and accessible for community members who need access to family sustaining employment.

A coalition of community, environmental and labor groups are demanding that every dollar of public funds invested creates good jobs with family sustaining wages, benefits and the ability to freely form or join a union. That will only happen if policymakers take action to require labor standards on these funds and on all state subsidies to corporations.

One of our best tools for fighting growing income inequality is to take a hard look at where our taxpayer money is going and what we are asking in return,” said Lorena Gonzalez, Chief Officer of the California Labor Federation, representing 1,300 unions and 2.3 million union members. “Rather than give away public money with no strings attached, we should be demanding that corporations agree to create good jobs that give families a pathway to the middle class. We should insist on policies that benefit our neglected communities and regions, like local hire and community benefit agreements. We should stop subsidizing companies that commit wage theft, misclassify workers, or engage in union busting when workers try to organize,” she added.

“Workers in California and all over the country are leading the fight against climate change but they cannot afford to sacrifice good union jobs for low road jobs in the green economy. We’re proud to join with the California Labor Federation, union siblings, and community and environmental groups in demanding that California stand with workers, not millionaires and billionaires, in fighting for a just transition and a green future,” said UAW Region 6 Director Mike Miller. “Wealthy CEOs and greedy corporations are framing a false choice between speeding up the transition to a green economy and quality union jobs, but the two are not exclusive, The fastest way to transition to a green economy is by creating worker-led industrial policies that involve workers in the process of making a just transition through collective bargaining. By requiring that companies engage workers, unions, and communities in a meaningful way, all Californians can benefit from our taxpayer investments to fight climate change, not just the billionaire class.”

“For too long, California has allowed our taxpayer funds to create low-quality, dirty, and dangerous jobs for members of our communities,” said Emily Gartenberg, Policy and Legislative Manager, Jobs to Move America. “We know we can do better. We have the tools to maximize the benefits of state and federal investments to create good, family-sustaining jobs that prioritize equity and training. With California spending billions of dollars on climate investments, now is the time for the state to take a stand and entrench policies like job scoring, labor peace, and community benefits agreements that support California’s working people and strengthen our communities.”

“SB150 represents a significant step forward in ensuring that our state’s infrastructure and manufacturing investments create good-paying jobs through the historic public investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Inflation Reduction Act, and the CHIPS and Science Act,” said BlueGreen Alliance California State Policy Manager Tamina Chowdhury. “State agencies can utilize these resources to uplift workers and communities by implementing these laws the right way in California.” 

“Climate justice is inextricably linked with economic justice, and with California set to invest billions in climate projects, it’s critical that jobs are created with equity and dignity for workers in mind,” said Fatima Iqbal-Zubair, Legislative Affairs Manager, California Environmental Voters. “As we begin to build a clean energy economy that supports electrifying our transportation and buildings and creating climate resiliency, we must adopt common-sense recommendations to safeguard workers, particularly in the manufacturing sector. We can’t fall short — California has a unique opportunity to lead in the creation of good-paying union jobs that create strong, sustainable communities.”

SB 150 (Chapter 61, Statues of 2023), passed by the Legislature last summer, tasks relevant state agencies to develop recommendations that will maximize the public benefits of these investments. However, to date, state agencies have delayed in implementing recommendations from labor, community, workforce and environmental organizations that are critical for the state to create good jobs, build training and hiring initiatives, and ensure that taxpayer-funded projects don’t leave working families in the dust.

State agencies presented their recommendations to the California Workforce Development Board on March 27th. The coalition was present to urge policymakers to adopt stronger standards on all public dollars for infrastructure and climate projects. California should lead the nation in both climate and economic justice. 

California unions, community, and environmental groups believe public dollars should be used to rebuild the middle class and strengthen the economy of California communities by requiring that companies use local workers, negotiate community benefits agreements, and respect workers who seek to exercise workplace rights that have been recognized and protected for 100 years.

The California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO represents over 1,300 affiliated unions in California with over 2.3 million union members in trucking, retail, hospitality, janitorial, construction, health care, local and state government, education, arts and entertainment, warehousing and logistics, manufacturing, and a variety of other sectors.

Jobs to Move America is a strategic organizing and policy center that works to transform public spending and corporate behavior using a comprehensive approach that is rooted in racial and economic justice We seek to advance a fair and prosperous economy with good jobs and healthier communities for all. 

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