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Will Green Energy Mean Green Bucks for NY Workers?

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 By Mike CliffordContact
February 5, 2009

New York, NY — The Obama administration plans to invest billions of dollars in clean energy, but will that create good-paying jobs in New York? The plan is expected to generate 4 million jobs, but a new report says some "green jobs," such as many in recycling, pay as low as $8.25 an hour.

Research director Phil Mattera of Good Jobs First, which conducted the study, says a wage like that won't work. He says if green jobs are going to fuel a new economy, they have to offer both good pay and good benefits.

"When the government is ready to put billions of taxpayer dollars into green development, it's gotta make sure that the jobs that result provide a middle-class standard of living with adequate wages and benefits."

The report says federal and local governments should make sure that companies benefiting from federal jobs programs provide good-paying jobs. Matera says if workers in the clean energy sector can't make enough to buy hybrid cars, the whole plan could "run out of gas."

Urban Agenda Managing Director Naomi Fatt says lawmakers need to focus not just on green jobs that help the environment but also on what she calls "green collar" jobs that grow the middle class.

"By our definition, a 'green collar job' is a job that provides family-supporting wages, offers benefits and a career ladder, is accessible to all people and that hopefully gives them a right to organize."

The report cites a wind-turbine production plant in Pennsylvania as a positive example of the kind of good-paying job that can be created. Workers at the Gamesa plant are represented by the Steelworkers' Union, and their starting wage is as high as $20 an hour.

The full report is available at www.goodjobsfirst.org.


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