Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Joe Biden’s promise to provide a seamless transition from fossil fuel jobs to renewable energy jobs is falling flat with the nation’s energy workers.
About Joe’s Energy Jobs
By The Editorial Board
Aug. 24, 2020 7:11 pm ET
Building trades workers prefer their oil and gas gigs to a green promise.
The Democratic nominee understands this risks alienating blue-collar energy workers in states like Pennsylvania and Ohio. So Mr. Biden is pitching his plan as an opportunity to create “10 million good-paying, middle-class, union jobs.” He’d have taxpayers spend $1.7 trillion in part to “train all of America’s workforce to tap into the growing clean-energy economy,” including energy workers who will install “millions of new solar panels and tens of thousands of wind turbines.” Oil riggers, you will be pleased to know, will seamlessly transition to solar technicians.
North America’s Building Trades Unions, a labor federation of 14 unions and three million members, begs to differ. In July the NABTU—whose affiliates include the Teamsters and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers—released two surveys of workers and statistics that analyze jobs across the energy economy. They found that “both union and non-union” tradespeople report that oil and gas jobs “have better wages, benefits and opportunities than renewables projects.”
One survey conducted interviews, focus groups and an online survey with some 1,700 union and non-union workers in energy jobs. Workers reported that oil and gas jobs were longer-term, resulting in steadier incomes and more consistent benefits. “With solar, you work your way out of a job. . . . Three months duration [then] you’re done,” explained one electrician. Workers also liked that there was “better project variety, skill development and project consistency.” The report emphasized that “skilled trade jobs are not highly interchangeable between industries.”
Read more: https://www.wsj.com/articles/about-joes-energy-jobs-11598310676
One of my favourite scenes out of the miniseries “Chernobyl“, is Soviet minister Boris Shcherbina‘s advice to scientist Valery Legasov. Valery wanted to know what to say to coal miners to convince them to perform the suicidally dangerous task of digging a tunnel under the molten core of the reactor, so they could install refrigeration equipment to stop the core burning through the final concrete barrier, and contaminating the groundwater.
Boris said “My advice, tell the truth. These men work in the dark, they see everything”.
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