Climate Jobs Washington hails legislative wins

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New coalition of unions touts slate of budget and legislative victories that will create high-quality union jobs, accelerate climate action, and advance equity across the state

 

OLYMPIA, Wash. (April 17, 2024) — Climate Jobs Washington, a statewide coalition of labor unions, unveiled a slate of budget and legislative victories that will create good union jobs, invest in working families, and grow an equitable worker-centered economy in the state. These wins, which include an unprecedented $812 million in new funding for clean energy and working families, come just eight months after the coalition’s launch in July.

From investments in improving indoor air quality, building electric vehicle infrastructure, and upgrading public buildings including schools, these investments come with strong labor standards that will grow and sustain clean energy jobs across the state. At least $550 million of these budget and legislative wins rely on funding from the state’s Climate Commitment Act program.

Notable budget wins include

  • $45 million for upgrades to improve indoor air quality and energy efficiency in schools with union labor
  • $25 million investment in clean nuclear power development efforts
  • $105 million investment in community electric vehicle charging infrastructure
  • $1.5 million investment supporting the production or manufacture of sustainable aviation fuel
  • $50 million in funding for early adoption of energy efficiency standards in the buildings sector
  • $50 million in Clean Energy Community grants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in overburdened and tribal communities, and $38 million to support community solar resilience hubs which will help upgrade and retrofit community buildings such as tribal buildings, libraries, and community colleges
  • $5M investment in thermal energy networks projects
  • $55 million to finance affordable multi-family home retrofits which will ensure under-represented communities and low-income families can access clean energy upgrades
  • $25M in green jobs and infrastructure grants for projects that create family-sustaining clean jobs in Washington, boost clean manufacturing capacity, or invest in workforce development to grow Washington’s clean energy economy
  • $214M in grants for small district modernization and planning and state-tribal compact school construction projects, including the replacement of lead pipes.

Notable legislative wins include

  • A measure that requires and funds the adoption of zero-emission school buses. Through the Zero Emission School Bus Grant Program, school districts must purchase zero-emission school buses once the total cost of doing so dips below the total cost of owning diesel buses.
  • A measure that will require utility-scale clean energy projects built or bought by Puget Sound Energy (PSE), the largest investor-owned utility in the state, to be built by union labor under a community workforce agreement or project labor agreement.
  • A measure establishing a Thermal Energy Network pilot program. Projects approved under the pilot will create and sustain good union jobs for gas workers as Washington builds out thermal energy networks
  • Improvements to the siting and permitting process to make it more efficient and predictable by streamlining the appeals process.
  • A measure promoting the development of geothermal energy resources, including through a cost-sharing grant program and updates to state-owned land lease rates.
  • A measure that modifies the match requirements for Green Transportation Capital Grant Program to make it easier for local transportation districts to apply for funding.

The coalition launched in July 2023 and adopted a policy platform outlined in a comprehensive report written by researchers at Cornell University’s Climate Jobs Institute. The coalition’s accomplishments in its inaugural legislative session have helped achieve a substantial number of the policy recommendations from their platform.

What union leaders in Washington are saying

“Unions in Washington State formed our coalition last year because we know we’re stronger together,” says April Sims, President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO. “Our victories this legislative year prove that when labor leads on climate, we can win for working families and our climate. From millions of dollars for long overdue investments in tribal, working-class, and frontline communities to the strong labor standards that will make sure every clean energy project built in Washington creates high-quality union jobs, we’re proud to help our state lead the way on pro-worker climate action.”

“Workers in Washington won big this year,” says Mark Riker, Executive Secretary of the Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council. “Climate Jobs Washington won millions of dollars to support clean energy projects that will create high-quality union jobs and expand earn-while-you-learn apprenticeship programs. We are ready to get to work upgrading our public schools and buildings, building the 21st century energy infrastructure we know we need, and growing a clean energy economy that actually works for working people.”

“Washington’s clean energy future is going to be union-built,” says Jon Holden, President of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, District 751. “Our coalition won historic investments in state-of-the-art clean energy, from sustainable aviation fuel to thermal energy networks and clean nuclear power, and we made sure that the millions of dollars in new funding come with strong labor standards that will create family-supporting union jobs throughout our state.”

Climate Jobs Washington is a growing coalition of labor unions advocating for good union jobs while building a clean energy economy in Washington that benefits everyone. Learn more at climatesjobswa.org.

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