The Maine Labor Climate Council, a new coalition made up of a dozen unions from across the state representing a variety of different industries, scored his first major victory in the Maine Legislature this week.
The council’s top priority bill this session, LD 1969, introduced by Rep. Scott Cuddy (D-Winterport), was signed into law without Gov. Janet Mills’ signature on April 25. large utility-scale renewable energy projects including solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, and hydropower.
LD 1969 passed Maine home 81-59 on April 13 and the Senate 21-13 on April 19, following party lines in both chambers.
“LD 1969 puts workers first and shows us that we don’t have to choose between meeting our state’s ambitious climate goals and reversing 50 years of wage stagnation and growing inequality,” Maine Labor executive director said in a statement. Climate Council, Francis Eanes. .
The new law requires contractors to pay the usual prevailing wages for each occupation in an industry. The new law will also create a career path for Maineans who want to enter the clean energy sector by developing pre-apprenticeship programs that will help them access union-registered apprenticeship programs.
LD 1969 also incentivizes employee ownership of renewable energy construction projects, as well as the use of Project Labor Agreements – agreements negotiated prior to hire that require strict labor standards regarding wages, hours, working conditions and methods. dispute resolution. The law directs the Maine Public Utilities Commission to consider these factors when purchasing power under Maine’s renewable portfolio standard, a law that establishes the portion of electricity sold in the state that must be supplied by renewable energy resources.
Maine’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) establishes the portion of electricity sold in the state that must be supplied by renewable energy resources.
With the passage of the new law, Maine joins other states such as Connecticut, Illinois, New York and New Jersey that recently passed strong fairness and labor standards in the renewable energy sector.
“Make no mistake, LD 1969 is a big deal and it says the quiet part out loud: Low-lying road developers and their preferred contractors may have had a hot streak, but it’s game over,” said Jason J. Shedlock, president from Maine. State Building and Construction Trades Council and regional organizer for the International Union of Workers. “Energy work in Maine can and will be done responsibly with unionized labor.”
The Maine Labor Climate Council’s first major victory comes just weeks after the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change grimly declared that humanity has only eight years to halve the world’s consumption of fossil fuels if we are to avoid climate catastrophe.
City Hall released in march as part of a larger movement of unions across the country addressing the twin crises of climate change and economic inequality by pushing for a “only transition” to a carbon-free economy.
At the launch event, the council presented its policy agenda, which is informed by a report spearheaded by the council and the Cornell University Labor Institute.
The council’s policy goals include getting Maine to set a deadline for providing 100% renewable electricity by 2035 and net-zero emissions for new construction projects by 2030, as well as building 19,000 units of affordable housing by 2040, and retrofitting half of residential units for that year. , retrofitting and installing solar energy in all K-12 public schools by 2035, building high-speed rail to Bangor, and installing 25,000 electric vehicle charging stations by 2030.
Through these projects, the council wants to create 10,000 to 20,000 good-paying jobs a year in the state for the next two decades. They said that the DL 1969 was a significant first step towards that goal.
“Maine is the most oil-dependent state in the country,” said Maine AFL-CIO Executive Director Matt Schlobohm. “Maines are feeling the pressure of rising energy costs as they rely on global markets for oil and natural gas. It is time to develop Maine’s energy independence and build our clean energy future. This bill ensures that we build that clean energy economy with good jobs and career opportunities for all Maine workers.”
Photo: An IBEW 567 electrician trainee with a co-worker at a solar panel site. | courtesy photo