Authors: Stacy Ho and Ryan Dexter
By Ryan Dexter with Stacy Ho, Green For All
Newark, New Jersey -- On Monday, January 12, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Laborers United of North America (LIUNA), and the Garden State Alliance for a New Economy (GANE) launched a partnership to offer union-trained green construction jobs for Newark residents, while weatherizing 30 homes of low-income seniors. Green For All staff Stacy Ho and Ryan Dexter (who was in New Jersey for the event) report.
On a snow covered street in a suburb of brick houses in Newark, a sea of green hard hats filled the street to celebrate the first house "weatherized" as part of this new pilot program.
It might have been freezing outside but this crowd of trainees and labor union members was fired up. The charismatic and hope-inspiring Mayor Cory Booker had this to say:
"The challenges we have right now are challenges to our moral imagination. Can we see a way out of no way? Can we turn obstacles into opportunities, barriers into blessings, pitfalls into pools of potential?
This is the challenge we have before us, and today, in screaming testimony, we are saying to the world, to America, to the state of New Jersey and all of Newark that Newark New Jersey is gonna be on the forefront of turning a challenged economy, high unemployment rate, a terrible environmental record into the era of the green movement to come.
We here in Newark are going to set the standard."Mayor Cory Booker
Laborers Local 55 will train the first class of 25 Newark residents in green construction techniques this winter. The weatherization work on homes will continue through January, and the laborers will earn accreditation while being paid union rates, with health benefits.
Ray Pachino, Vice-president of the Labors Union of North America, spoke of the immediate benefits of weatherization:
"In our training center, where we had some of these workers training on Saturday, they put some of their newly learned skills to work and did some insulating around the building, especially in the garage area. We got a call this morning that the temperature in the garage was ten degrees warmer with the thermostat ten degrees lower.
So it works! It does work."
Through this innovative new program, now in its pilot stage, local residents will be hired and trained to weatherize homes of needy households, thus reducing energy consumption, cutting costs for those most in need, and creating good paying, career track jobs for local residents.
Said Perrette Hopkins, a GANE trainee:
"I know I've heard a lot of talk on TV about green jobs. Well in Newark we ain't just talk, we doin' it! And thanks to Cory Booker, GANE, and the Labors Union, for giving me the opportunity and training, but also for giving me a future. And I just want everyone here to have the same opportunities I have."Perette Hopkins
As President-elect Obama and Congress work to create a green economic recovery and reinvestment package, community activists and the City of Newark are demonstrating a model program that creates career-track jobs as it reduces energy costs, and can be replicated throughout the nation.
Gilda Johnson's home was the first to be weatherized by the new program.
A union-member weatherizes Johnson's house.
Photo Credit: Green For All.
Stacy Ho is the Policy Associate at Green For All. She periodically writes about local green jobs initiatives for the blog. Ryan Dexter is the Videographer and Media Archivist for Green For All.