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Justice-Centered Climate Plan Jobs Scoring Analysis

In his Justice-Centered Climate Plan Framework, Tom Steyer pledges to declare the climate crisis a national emergency on day one of his presidency and will take immediate executive action to begin implementation of his climate plan. This includes federal investments in infrastructure and clean energy, aggressive performance standards for pollution reduction, commitments to inclusive and transparent public process and appointments, ending the mismanagement of public resources, and holding fossil fuel companies accountable. This memo identifies new details for how Tom will implement important components of this framework in order to support 4.6 million full-time workers each year for a total of 46 million jobs over a ten-year period.

Tom’s plan will freeze Trump-era rulemakings on day one, and issue an emergency order to temporarily restore minimum 2016 levels of environmental protections and scientific review for environmental and worker protections that he has attempted to weaken, while new rules and procedures are developed consistent with our 2045 target and fair labor practices.

JOBS ANALYSIS

Betony Jones, a climate labor expert who has done extensive analyses for the White House, the State of California, University of California, the Energy Foundation, and other prominent clients, completed this jobs analysis of core components of the framework. She determined that Tom’s framework would expand this prosperity nationwide and accelerate the rate of clean energy job growth, to support 4.6 million full-time workers each year for a total of 46 million jobs over a ten-year period in transitioning to a clean energy economy. Jones found that Tom’s plan could lead to dramatically increased union membership within the construction industry, restoring union density in that sector to levels not seen since 1945, at the height of the labor movement.

Projected National Jobs Under Tom’s Framework

Steyer’s proposed climate-smart infrastructure investments, clean buildings standards, clean electricity standards, and Civilian Climate Corps would support nearly 46 million jobs — equivalent to a workforce of 4.6 million people holding a full-time, climate-smart job for 10 years. In addition to the 46 million direct jobs over ten years quantified in Jones’ analysis, there will be millions more new indirect jobs, those created in the supply-chain to provide raw materials and components to make much of this work possible, and induced jobs, those created as these new workers spend money in their communities. For example, while Jones’ analysis quantifies jobs for solar panel installers and manufacturers (direct jobs), it does not quantify the jobs associated with supplying components, equipment, and raw materials to the manufacturer (indirect jobs), nor the jobs sustained in the broader economy as workers in the solar energy industry purchase commercial goods, buy homes, etc. (induced jobs).

This proposal would also create a strong demand for higher skilled, better compensated workers. Nearly 8 million of these jobs would be needed in utility-scale renewable energy construction and electricity grid upgrades, both sectors that support good union jobs. The jobs created through infrastructure investments and in moving to 100% clean buildings will potentially grow the overall construction industry by one-third, and with strong labor standards, these new jobs could nearly triple union density in the construction industry to levels not seen since 1945. 

Job Quality Protections

Under the Justice-Centered Climate Plan, there won’t just be more jobs — there will be better jobs. Tom’s plan will reward workers for the skills and training they acquire to tackle the challenges of this transition and will respect the dignity of working people. One job will be enough, and workers will receive family-sustaining wages and benefits, job stability, and security. 

As we build a climate-smart economy, the highest job growth will be in traditionally densely unionized industries, such as the power sector, public works construction, and manufacturing, and we will invest in sectors like agriculture, forestry, efficient buildings and industry, where jobs cannot be outsourced and workers won’t have to compete with exploited workers overseas. 

We will increase workers’ voice in the clean energy economy by removing barriers to workplace organizing and collective bargaining. We will support on-ramps like job and apprenticeship-readiness training and wrap-around services for individuals with barriers to employment. We will also provide support for minority/women-owned businesses, entrepreneurs, contractors, and local businesses to secure public contracts, grow quality jobs, and stimulate local economies.

Most of the work that will be done in building a carbon neutral economy requires the skills and training of those workers currently employed in the fossil fuel, construction, and manufacturing sectors. For example, technicians who install gas-fired furnaces and water heaters in homes today will continue to install equipment for heating and water-heating in homes as we upgrade to cleaner heating systems that do not rely on natural gas. The same technicians will be able to provide the same service, but instead of working with dangerous and toxic gas systems, they will work with clean fossil-free systems instead. In this way, the transition to working in the clean energy economy will be seamless for most workers: only the equipment they are installing will change. Most jobs that are associated with fossil fuels today aren’t going away; instead they will need to increasingly shift towards application in low-carbon processes and products, like electric cars, batteries, and efficient buildings and industry. 

With Tom’s plan, many workers currently employed in fossil fuel industries will have other good alternative employment options in growing industries, and workers with highly specialized training to work with fossil fuels will receive additional support, such as voluntary retraining or relocation assistance, health, pension, and wage guarantees, portability of union membership and benefits, and early retirement options.

Tom’s plan will mobilize $240B towards social resilience professions, such as nursing, social work, and home health care, and dedicate $50B towards regenerative economy transition programs and worker protections. This will require projects that include federal investments to adopt project labor agreements, community benefit agreements, and other fair labor standards, such as skills and training requirements, prevailing wage, and responsible contractor criteria. Further demonstrating a commitment to labor, Tom will ensure portability of union membership and benefits for displaced workers; and require advance notice for workers and limit bankruptcy protections for companies that do not fully fund workers’ pensions, salaries, and health care obligations. 

In short, building a climate-smart economy need not focus only on new categories of “green jobs;” instead, smart investments will stimulate the greening of traditional occupations and create more opportunity for workers to secure stable and well-paid employment.  

Investments under Tom’s Justice-Centered Climate Plan will require meaningful community involvement, respect the rights of communities to self-determination, and respect the treaty rights of Sovereign Tribal Nations. As we transform our economy to achieve carbon neutrality and end our dependence on fossil fuels, we will help to lift up rural communities and areas that have suffered under redlining and environmental injustice. We will improve our national security and make our society more just, more inclusive, and more resilient. 

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