The United Steelworkers union (USW) will mark the 40th anniversary of Earth Day and highlight the efforts of congressional leaders drafting clean energy legislation with seven workers from industrial states meeting with members of Congress on the importance of manufacturing jobs in a clean energy economy.
USW president Leo W. Gerard said, "It's essential that as we transition to a cleaner economy and create new jobs, we don't forget existing American manufacturing workers and the role they can and are already serving in the clean energy economy."
He adds, "As Congress prepares clean energy legislation, they must ensure mechanisms are included that spur investment, research and development in clean energy manufacturing."
The USW president expects the legislation to encourage domestic sourcing, production of clean energy component parts, plus other provisions – such as transition assistance and an effective border measure to allow energy intensive industries and workers to compete successfully on a global level.
The seven USW workers are from states critical to the passage of clean energy legislation. They are: Raleigh Smallwood and Jim Campbell from the ArcelorMittal steel plate mill in Indiana; Ray Fron and John Tulo, employed at Brad Foote Gear Works in Illinois; Jim Bauer from the Gamesa wind turbine nacelle plant in Pennsylvania; Bob Brown of the Hibbing Taconite iron ore mine in Minnesota; and Vance Giroux, employed at the USX iron ore mine, also in Minnesota.
Gerard explains that "More than 200 tons of steel go into making a windmill tower, the turbine and its parts. You can't make steel without iron ore." He said there are 8,000 component parts including gears and nacelles. "Every one of our members on Capitol Hill today are representative of clean energy, or green jobs. We must secure a place for them and their industries in this economy going forward."
The USW is North America's largest industrial union, representing 850,000 workers in metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply and the energy-producing industries. Since 1990, the USW has been a leader among international unions on the issue of climate change and was one of the first industrial unions to endorse a comprehensive climate change bill. For more information, visit www.usw.org.