Authors: Cindy Chavez, Executive Officer, South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council
California’s working families are struggling to survive in the face of record high unemployment. In these difficult times, one of the few bright spots in the economy has been the growth of the clean energy and transportation sectors. These are industries that aren’t just growing on paper or in the stock market – they are actually creating much-needed jobs right here.
Since 2005, green and clean energy occupations have added jobs in California 10 times faster than the overall economy. Just this week, Tesla Motors Inc. opened its new electric vehicle factory at the former NUMMI auto plant in Fremont, bringing new hope to the tens of thousands of workers laid off when the plant closed.
This emerging green jobs growth is being spurred by California’s landmark clean air law, AB32. Since AB32 was passed four years ago, it has catapulted California to the forefront of the clean technology industry.
These jobs, and California’s position as a leader in green industry, are under threat by Proposition 23 – the Dirty Energy Proposition. Funded by Texas oil companies and other out-of-state interests, Prop. 23 proposes to “suspend” AB32 indefinitely. In reality, it would effectively repeal AB32 – stopping the clean energy industry dead in its tracks. The Tesla plant is just one example of the growing green economy that Prop. 23 seeks to kill.
Who would suffer from Prop. 23? Here in San Jose, working families – Silicon Valley’s invisible majority – would suffer the most. Unemployment for construction workers here is upwards of 30%, and we have lost 40% of our manufacturing jobs since 2000.
The nascent clean technology industry is starting to bring middle-class jobs back – jobs for building trades workers, for train operators, for environmentally friendly cleaners, and new opportunities manufacturing electric cars, solar panels and much more.
Our communities desperately need those emerging jobs. That’s why, in Silicon Valley, labor and business are united in opposing Prop. 23. We deserve clean air and good jobs. Prop 23 would kill them in the cradle.
South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council