New Illinois law will use clean energy transition to create union jobs

Clean energy is the future. As we move towards a carbon neutral energy economy, millions of new jobs will be created — and many will be unionized.

Passed last September, the Illinois Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (SB2408) strives to make the state 100 percent independent of fossil fuels by 2045. In the process, the law will create thousands of good paying union jobs. 

Recently, Mechanical Insulators Labor Management and Cooperative Trust (LMCT) Deputy Director and retired Local 1 Sister Gina Walsh joined the America’s Work Force Union Podcast, a national, labor-focused podcast, to discuss the Illinois Climate and Equitable Jobs Act and what it will mean for unionized labor. 


Renewable energy presents lucrative opportunity for union labor

In addition to the Insulators Union, numerous coalitions and unions lobbied to get the Illinois Climate and Equitable Jobs Act passed, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) union and the American Federation of Teachers union. Under the new law, working men and women in good paying, union jobs will be key players in this transition.

For people currently working in the coal, oil and gas industries, the transition will naturally be challenging, but it will also provide economic opportunity for workers, Walsh explained in the interview.

The Illinois Climate and Equitable Jobs Act maintains some of the most union friendly labor standards in wind and solar development. It also stipulates Project Labor Agreements for all wind and solar utility projects. It includes block programs for carbon free schools. The law also requires building and mechanical insulation in new school buildings. The legislation also includes plans for electric vehicles and charging stations, and provides over $700 million in subsidies for nuclear power plants in Illinois.


Illinois law inspires similar measures throughout the country

Walsh said she was proud of the efforts of the Mechanical Insulators LMCT and other unions and coalitions to pass the law. Some may argue that the legislation does not go far enough, but successful politics is always based on compromise, she stated.

Agencies are currently being formed to outline the rulemaking process and dictate how the law will be implemented.

Several coalitions across the country are sponsoring similar legislation inspired by the Illinois law and have had some success. The Illinois law is groundbreaking legislation that can serve as a model for the entire country, she added.

You can listen to the interview on the Insulators Union YouTube channel which appears below:

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