Some actual news from the green jobs conference this morning: the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), the largest federation of unions in the country, announced that it is forming a new Center for Green Jobs at its Washington, D.C., headquarters.
The center will focus on helping unions, employers and government entities create environmentally and economically sustainable jobs. It will also seek to support the idea that a job that qualifies as “green” should also be one that pays a living wage and allows workers to organize, which will be significant as the country moves toward investing in these types of jobs. AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said the Working for America Institute, the organization’s workforce and economic development arm, is committing $1 million to the new project.
“The mission of the center is not only to affect public policy, but to help our unions move beyond that and begin implementing green job programs,” said Sweeney.
The new center is also partnering with the National Labor College to create a green certificate program for students.
Jeff Rickert, formerly the research director at the Apollo Alliance, will serve as the center’s director, which will staff seven to ten people. Rickert told Grist that a lot of this work is already going within several departments at AFL-CIO, and the center will integrate those efforts.
Labor leaders on hand for the the announcement said the move signals that stereotypes about a divisions between labor and environmentalism are outdated. “We have once and for all smashed the myth that you can’t have a clean environment and good jobs,” said United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard.