Union Labor for Offshore Wind

Submitted by Judith Weis:

Ørsted Works to Bring More Union Labor to Offshore Wind

November 20, 2020

Block Island wind farm. Image: Wikimedia commons

On Wednesday11/18/20, Danish energy company Ørsted joined with North America’s Building Trades Unions (formerly known as the AFL-CIO’s Building and Construction Trades Department) to create a program that trains wind energy workers in hopes of deploying more offshore wind along the East Coast.

In doing so, these groups have piloted a new way to create more carbon-free energy while also expanding job opportunities and training to workers in a rapidly growing sector of our economy. 

Why This Matters: Some labor unions haven’t always embraced a transition to a clean energy economy fearing that such a transition would wipe out high-paying jobs in existing energy and industrial sectors and replace them with lower-wage alternatives. Yet this program strives specifically to bring labor unions on board to help grow the nascent U.S. offshore wind industry. 

As it stands, the United States is lagging behind Europe and Asia in maximizing its offshore wind energy capacity. Europe has 22,000 megawatts of offshore wind capacity, Asia has 8,000, while the United States only has just over 40–it’s a chance to reduce emissions while creating jobs. 

A New Energy Sector: Ørsted operates a wind farm off Block Island — America’s first utility-scale offshore wind farm, and has also built a two-turbine project off the coast of Virginia. The Rhode Island project was built with union labor and served as a pilot for a more sweeping national agreement.

To expand this program, Ørsted and NABTU will select the necessary skills to create an offshore workforce as well as a training and certification program to prepare potential workers to construct new wind energy projects.

The United States has 15 active commercial leases for offshore wind farms. According to statistics from the America Wind Energy Association, if these farms were constructed, they could generate 30 gigawatts of electricity, create 83,000 jobs, and bring in 25 billion dollars in annual economic output over the next ten years.

Moreover, it’s important that Ørsted is working alongside labor unions to ensure fair wages and benefits. NABTU’s president supports the agreement, telling Reuters: “This will show how as we move and transform our energy production in North America, it can be done at middle-class wages and good benefits packages. Anything else is not acceptable.”

1 thought on “Union Labor for Offshore Wind

  1. Related:

    From: windworksli@googlegroups.com
    Sent: Wednesday, November 18, 2020 10:57 AM
    Subject: New Ørsted Partnership with NABTU and AFLCIO

    Good morning, all!

    We wanted to flag this morning’s important announcement of the landmark agreement between Ørsted, North America’s Building Trades Union (NABTU), and AFLCIO. Together, they will create a framework for a national strategy to transition U.S. workers into the offshore wind industry. This agreement represents a transformative moment for offshore wind projects to become an incubator for Union and green economy job creation and innovation.

    We’re posting this exciting announcement to WWLI’s social handles now and encourage everyone to like, retweet, and post on their own handles so we can further amplify this news. If you need any help drafting, please let us know, and we’d be happy to assist.

    WWLI Social Copy Content:

    This partnership between #OffshoreWind developer @Orsted & building trades unions @NABTU @AFLCIO is an investment in the training & development of a long-term #CleanEnergy workforce. In the short term, the support of the labor movement will be vital to overcoming obstacles.

    This agreement between @Orsted, @NABTU, & @AFLCIO represents a transformative moment for #OffshoreWind projects to become an incubator for union & green economy job creation and innovation. #WindWorksLI

    POLITICO PRO––Ørsted inks training agreement with organized labor

    Ørsted, which has contracts with New York, New Jersey and other states to develop offshore wind projects, has struck a deal to partner with organized labor on training workers in the building trades for the offshore wind industry.

    The developer announced the agreement with the North America’s Building Trades Unions and the AFL-CIO on Wednesday.

    Why it matters: The deal could help Ørsted secure a workforce for the anticipated future buildout of offshore wind. The agreement is also a win for unions eager to tap into the growing sector and secure high-paying jobs for members. State policymakers, especially in New York, have also been pushing — and in some cases requiring — offshore wind projects to negotiate with unions.

    The details: The national agreement calls for the company and its partners to work with unions to match needed skills with available workers and the timeline of the company’s projects. The goal is to develop a long-term plan to ensure that a workforce is ready as permits are obtained and construction begins on projects, according to the announcement.

    Emily Friend
    Metropolitan Public Strategies


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