Earlier this year, the Washington, DC chapter of Labor and Employment Relations Association (DC LERA – dclera.org) hosted a roundtable discussion at the Embassy of Sweden with Betony Jones, Director of the Office of Energy Jobs at the U.S. Department of Energy, to discuss the clean energy transition within the Biden Administration. Ms. Jones spoke about the clean energy transition and building better quality jobs backed by strong labor standards and collective bargaining for workers.
Creating green jobs is about creating business and family-supporting opportunities
The Biden Administration's commitment to creating better jobs was on display through the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, the CHIPS Act and the Inflation Reduction Act. These laws demonstrate on the ground to American workers that creating green jobs is about creating business and family-supporting opportunities that relate to climate change and can help American workers in the middle class thrive. The science of climate change and its impact on our world and economy has been marginalized in policy making. However, President Biden and his administration want this green transition to support the American middle class and workers by creating better quality jobs through efficient programs across America.
The role of the Office of Energy Jobs in creating green jobs
Ms. Jones’ work at the Department of Energy centers around how to create quality jobs that promote healthy labor standards, including a fair choice to unionize, and can also lead the U.S. to a net-zero carbon output. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law paved the way for massive investments in climate and energy infrastructure while the Inflation Reduction Act allowed for public funding (i.e., tax credits) to help stimulate investments in advanced manufacturing—making the U.S. a beacon for advanced manufacturing and clean energy companies. The manufacturing and construction industry has been negatively impacted due to COVID-19, and these laws will help make these industries be more stable, resilient and equitable.
Submission of Community Benefits Plans as part of funding applications
To achieve these goals, DOE developed a framework requiring applicants—usually private sector companies-- seeking DOE funds to describe their workforce plans and labor practices when they apply for funding. These private companies create Community Benefits Plans and submit them to DOE as part of their proposals for competitive funding. Community Benefits Plans are based on a set of four core policy priorities: investing in America's workforce; engaging communities and labor (including through project labor agreements); advancing diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility; and implementing Justice 40. These key principles, when incorporated comprehensively into project proposals and executed upon, will help ensure broadly shared prosperity in the clean energy transition.