With the graduation of seven newly certified weatherization technicians from its Eastern New York Laborers Training Center, the New York State Laborers’ Union (NYSLIUNA) is blowing holes in several right-wing myths all at once, proving that jobless people do want to work, government programs can spur the creation of good jobs and labor unions can lead the way to prosperity.
Working in partnership with Peter Young Housing, Industries & Treatment (PYHIT), a non-profit that provides treatment, housing and vocational training to disadvantaged people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, the Laborers trained these first members of Green Jobs Local 58, chartered by the Laborers (LIUNA) as the first local in the Albany, N.Y., region dedicated exclusively to green jobs. Participants in the training had to be clean and sober for at least six months in order to be accepted into the program.
Thanks in part to the state’s 2009 Green Jobs/Green New York Act and a new program launched by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the demand for the retrofitting of homes to be more weather-resistant and energy-efficient is expected to climb. (Through the NYSERDA program, residents will be able to finance the weatherization of their homes via their monthly utility bills.)
The new Local 58 members will work for Eagle Street Construction, one of PYHIT’s vocational enterprises. Local 58 Business Manager Frank Marchese Jr. told the Albany Times Union that the workers would earn $14 per hour, plus a benefits package. He told the paper:
We are taking people involved in social programs who are now moving into being viable taxpayers.
Pete Wilcox, one of the local’s new members, expressed his enthusiasm to the Times Union this way:
I am very thankful for the opportunity to get green jobs training. I live in Albany and it means a lot to me to be able to have the skills to weatherize homes in my own backyard.
Sounds like a win for everybody.
This blog originally appeared in AFL-CIO Now on February 6, 2012. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Adele Stan writes: “My first union job was as a cashier at a New Jersey supermarket when I was 17, where I fell in love with the labor movement. My journalism career began at Ms. magazine (where, in the 1990s, I represented freelancers on an NWU arbitration team). I’ve covered the right wing of American politics for Mother Jones, The Nation, The American Prospect and, currently, for AlterNet, where I report on the tea party movement and cover the presidential campaign. I also served as a communications specialist for AFGE, 2001-2005.”