Mandate strong protections for displaced workers

Pathways for former fossil fuel workers to transition to high road careers in the clean energy economy must be included in 100% regenerative policies.

A major component of Just Transition is ensuring fossil fuel workers move into the new clean energy economy. They need pathways to transition to high road careers in the clean energy sector. Deep investments and supports should be included in a 100% policy for workers and surrounding communities which can range from comprehensive trainings in all aspects of clean energy careers to funds for retirement for workers who are at the end of their careers. It is desirable to invest in diversification of the economies of fossil-fuel-dependent communities in advance of job losses, as has been advocated in a Just Transition report published by the Labor Network for Sustainability and the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research.[1] In the process of a Just Transition, 100% policies should not just create clean energy work, but should create meaningful work that taps into the human potential.

Policy recommendations

100% policies should include thoughtful policy elements where these workers can be adequately supported in the transition such as:

  • High road careers for displaced fossil fuel workers
  • Wage replacement for displaced fossil fuel workers and maintenance of benefits at the same level
  • Coverage for pensions
  • Healthcare
  • Affirmation of workers’ rights and support of workers’ wellbeing
  • A Worker Transition Fund to support workers in the transition

Examples

Example of Worker Transition Fund from Washington Initiative 1631, Carbon Emissions Fee Measure (2018)

Within four years of the effective date of this section, a minimum balance of fifty million dollars of the clean air and clean energy account must be set aside, replenished annually, and maintained for a worker-support program for bargaining unit and nonsupervisory fossil fuel workers who are affected by the transition away from fossil fuels to a clean energy economy. The department of commerce, in consultation with the environmental and economic justice panel, may allocate additional moneys from the fund if necessary to meet the needs of eligible workers in the event of unforeseen or extraordinary amounts of dislocation. (a) Worker support may include but is not limited to full wage replacement, health benefits, and pension contributions for every worker within five years of retirement; full wage replacement, health benefits, and pension contributions for every worker with at least one year of service for each year of service up to five years of service; wage insurance for up to five years for workers reemployed who have more than five years of service; up to two years of retraining costs including tuition and related costs, based on in-state community and technical college costs; peer counseling services during transition; employment placement services, prioritizing employment in the clean energy sector; relocation expenses; and any other services deemed necessary by the environmental and economic justice panel.[2]

References

  1. Makhijani, Arjun. “Beyond a Band Aid: A Discussion Paper on Protecting Workers and Communities in the Great Energy Transition.” Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, 10 Jun. 2016. Accessed 26 Jul. 2019.
  2. Initiative Measure No. 1631.” Washington Secretary of State, 3 Mar. 2018. Accessed 26 Jul. 2019.