FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 21, 2021
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REPORT: Community Labor Standards to Ensure Investments in Appalachia Create Good, Family Sustaining Jobs
State Federations of Labor from Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia Endorse New Plan to Focus Investments on Long-term Economic, Environmental Payoff for the Region
OHIO RIVER VALLEY – ReImagine Appalachia today released a new report that outlines the principles needed to ensure that investments in Appalachia create good, family sustaining jobs. In the midst of conversations about federal infrastructure and COVID-19 relief funding for the region.
The heads of the four Appalachian-region state federations of labor from Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky, joined representatives from ReImagine Appalachia to unveil the new report. The paper, “Maximizing Value – Community and Labor Standards,” includes numerous real world examples that show how these standards work to create jobs for struggling communities.
“By leveraging federal infrastructure investment, we have a great opportunity to accelerate the creation of shared prosperity in a 21st century sustainable Appalachia,” said Rick Bloomingdale, President of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO. “This vision starts with developing good union jobs, especially in the construction trades and manufacturing sectors. According to the economic impact study, the ReImagine Appalachia plan will create nearly a quarter million jobs in Pennsylvania alone. We must seize this moment and put working people at the center of this transformation.”
ReImagine Appalachia has released a number of white papers showing that investment in an Appalachian Climate Infrastructure plan could create over half a million jobs in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and West Virginia. We need to make sure these are good, family sustaining, union jobs.
“The clean-energy economy must be built on a foundation of family-supporting union jobs,” said Tim Burga, President of the Ohio AFL-CIO. “Workers along the Ohio river have powered this country for generations and are ready to carry on that time honored tradition. Let’s put workers first and move Appalachia forward.”
“Job growth in this region gives an opportunity to begin to address failed policies of the past and help lift up future generations,” said Bishop Marcia Dinkins, of Ohioans for Sustainable Change, who moderated the press call unveiling the new report. “This is one of the reasons we are pushing for policies that would ensure that the jobs we create serve those who have been involved with the criminal legal system to help them reestablish their lives and to reduce recidivism.”
As Covid-19 and economic recovery plans are being considered at the federal level, Appalachian communities must be at the table. The report lays out how the current moment provides a once in a lifetime opportunity to fund an ambitious Appalachian Climate Infrastructure Program to bring the region into the 21st Century and create a model economy that is good for workers, communities, environment, and health.
“The Appalachian Region has experienced some of the worst unemployment and poverty rates in our nation,” said Bill Londrigan, President of the Kentucky AFL-CIO. “While these and so many other issues prevalent in the region have festered for decades, a transition to a clean energy economy that advances the vast potential of the region and its workforce by providing family-supporting union jobs will re-imagine Appalachia and uplift those that have been left behind.”
“Appalachia — also known as coal country — needs to be at the table when decisions are being made about national climate solutions,” said Amanda Woodrum, Senior Researcher at Policy Matters and the primary author of the report. “The region deserves it’s fair share of federal climate infrastructure investments — frankly, it’s due share. This can’t be about retraining our workforce for jobs they don’t want in places they don’t want to go to. In fact we need our incredibly skilled workforce to help us build the future Appalachians want to live in.”
Through research and reports, public meetings, and other communications since its inception in 2020, ReImagine Appalachia has maintained that while rebuilding regional economies takes many years, the economic and energy shifts that will accompany climate change can be an opportunity to invest in the region and create new jobs. Coal communities and workers have powered American homes and businesses for more than a century, and they deserve support as America’s energy landscape changes.
“I have no doubt our workforce will meet the needs of a 21st century economy,” commented Josh Sword, President of the West Virginia AFL-CIO. “Highly trained and skilled union members like coal miners, electricians, laborers and other trades already have the foundational skills that are critically important in the work moving forward.”
Learn more about ReImagine Appalachia’s Research here.
Recording of the Press Conference on Zoom here
Recording of the press conference via Facebook Live here
Get more information on the coalition website here: https://reimagineappalachia.org/.