Updated: Aug 15
"Luis Neuner, an environmental advocate with the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC), also spoke in favor of the agreement, emphasizing that it will 'make way for good paying jobs, a strong local economy, a workforce and a port project of quality.' He said the agreement is a step in the right direction and will 'establish labor standard that we can all be proud of' but emphasized that this is not the end of the road. 'This cannot be the end of workforce development on this project,' Neuner said. 'We need to ensure that local folks who want to get hired, get hired. We must also exhaust all efforts to ensure that our local community, tribal nations and at-risk population stays safe. That will have to happen through additional agreements. It’s not every day unions and enviros see eye to eye on things … but today we do.'"
Offshore wind offers enormous potential — for our planet and for our local communities. But to realize that potential, we need to ensure that offshore wind works for the local communities. Local labor and environmentalists are united in a blue-green alliance to solve our climate crisis in a way that builds a clean, thriving, and equitable economy.
Environmentalists stand with Labor in our shared push that the working people of this area benefit from the jobs created by offshore wind. Offshore wind in Humboldt County offers an opportunity to serve as a national example for how to build a thriving green economy: hundreds of blue-collar, family-wage jobs building our renewable energy future. To do this, however, we need firm commitments from the Harbor District through a project labor agreement.
A Project Labor Agreement (PLA) is an agreement negotiated between project developers and labor unions that set forth the terms and conditions for all craft works. The Humboldt-Del Norte County Building and Construction Trades Council has worked with the Harbor District for years to develop a project labor agreement that prioritizes the working people of this region by giving hiring preferences to local and tribal citizens, while providing apprenticeship opportunities for aspiring blue-collar workers.
Currently, our region lacks enough good-paying, skilled job openings to offer stable career options for local residents or to keep our current local workforce local. As a result, the region’s skilled workers are increasingly having to travel to the Bay Area or Central Valley for work. It also drains talent from our region, and reduces the economic benefits of their employment, as their earnings are largely spent far from their home communities. This cycle compounds our region’s ongoing economic struggles, and unless we take action, those struggles will continue to plague us. The negotiations between the Harbor District and the Humboldt-Del Norte County Building and Construction Trades Council have produced a PLA that will create good-paying, safe, and environmentally sustainable jobs right here in Humboldt County.
The tide can turn with the passage of this negotiated PLA, by bringing high-road jobs back to our region. The signing of this PLA only marks the beginning of many years of work to build back a strong labor force through new paid training programs and apprenticeship programs offered by the Humboldt-Del Norte County Building and Construction Trades Council.
Labor stands with environmentalists in our shared push that port development be completed in a sustainable way, that pushes the boundaries of what is possible to reduce emissions from port activities. Ports are notorious for noxious emissions from heavy diesel machinery. Developing a new port for the offshore wind industry offers an opportunity to do things differently from the outset.
Not only is a clean, green port good for the environment, but it is also good for workers and adjacent communities. Electrifying heavy machinery when feasible means more than greenhouse gasses saved, it also means fewer NOx [nitrogen oxides], SOx [sulfur oxides] and other conventional air pollutants and quieter work environments. Pushing for a modern port, however, is going to take the combined power of organized labor and environmentalists.
As we move forward through this process, our alliance knows that there is more work to do as it relates to further expanding and strengthening targeting preferences for our local communities and tribal nations in order to deliver on the promise of a green economy. We remain committed to those goals. To ensure port development benefits all, we are also excited to craft and support future agreements that guarantee safe working conditions and strong protections for vulnerable people in our community.
Please join EPIC and your local Building Trades workers in supporting the passage of this PLA. We owe it to our workers, communities and the environment to pass this PLA and secure a brighter, more sustainable future for everyone.