Green Jobs Shouldn’t Leave Black and Brown Workers Behind

The climate crisis is here – that historical forest fires that swept the west and New York City fatal flood are just a few of the weather disasters that have almost hit every third American over the summer. Although the federal government finally appears to be on the verge of partially countering climate change through the infrastructure and reconciliation laws of Congress, these solutions are incomplete.

A comprehensive climate policy must not only include the financing of jobs; it also needs to create pathways to them – especially for people of color, women and other groups in vulnerable communities who have historically not received employment through infrastructure investments.

the Reconciliation of the Democrats and non-partisan infrastructure The bills include many different green infrastructure initiatives that require new skilled workers. However, these bills do not provide solutions to the challenges faced by environmental justice communities – communities that have suffered disproportionate environmental hazards – to ensure they can achieve newly created, family-sustaining jobs.

That’s because the hundreds of billions of dollars in clean energy investments that Democrats envisioned in Congress cannot alone improve the public labor system that has historically left frontline workers in communities. The existing system is extremely decentralized, complex and underfunded. As a result, no matter how many new programs the federal government endorses or supports how much it undertakes to land these investments in deprived areas, it is unlikely to be enough to make meaningful change for these communities.

Theoretically – because that’s how the system works in many other countries that spend more on staff development – job seekers should be able to easily find vacancies and training programs through which they will learn the necessary skills. Local or regional coordinating bodies should work together to actively collect and share detailed information on job opportunities and skills required, to recruit potential employees and to assess their training needs. You should then work with the stakeholders to provide the quality education necessary to be successful in job placement.

This vision does not correspond to reality.

Public infrastructure projects like those in the Congressional bills require the pooling of multiple funding streams – including some of the more than 40 Offered by the federal government – and stakeholders, including employers, training providers, organized workers, and community-based organizations that recruit and provide support services to apprentices.


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