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A New Report from The Worker Institute Outlines a Climate Jobs Agenda for Maine

A robust and equitable clean energy economy in Maine

March 1st, 2022
The Worker Institute 

NATIONWIDE — A new report released today by climate and labor experts at Cornell University examines the intersecting crises and offers a series of “climate jobs” recommendations for Maine – a set of bold, science-based recommendations that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pollution at scale, create thousands of high-quality jobs, and build more resilient, equitable communities in Maine. The report offers a suite of policy recommendations to build an equitable clean energy economy that tackles climate change and racial and economic inequality. 

Maine Climate Jobs Report,” highlights key recommendations in the energy, transit, and building sectors. Recommendations include: providing funds for 50% of residential units built before the year 2000 to be retrofitted by 2040, with a prevailing wage requirement while prioritizing hiring local workers, retrofit and install solar panels on all public K-12 schools in the state of Maine, with prevailing wage mandate and project labor agreement by 2035, double bus routes and increase service frequency and reliability across the state and convert Maine’s bus fleets to zero-emissions electric by 2035, and more!

In order to transition to an equitable clean energy economy, Maine must prioritize the needs of working people and frontline communities. Building affordable housing, implementing strong labor standards, and expanding access to public transportation will ensure that the state achieves its climate goals while tackling pervasive inequality,” says Hunter Moskowitz, Research Assistant, Occidental College; Northeastern University.

In early 2020, the Worker Institute’s Labor Leading on Climate Initiative, in partnership with the Climate Jobs National Resource Center and the Maine AFL-CIO, began a comprehensive research, educational and policy process to develop a vision and framework for simultaneously addressing the crises of climate change and inequality in Maine through high-impact job creation strategies. 

Maine has a real opportunity to move towards a more just, low-carbon future. With the recommendations in this report, the state can create good, union jobs, be a national leader in emissions reductions, and provide needed support for workers and communities to transition to a just low-carbon future,” says J. Mijin Cha, Assistant Professor, Urban and Environmental Policy, Occidental College.

Considering Maine’s current labor and employment landscape, as well as its climate and energy profile, these recommendations identify very concrete, jobs-driven strategies that can put Maine on the path to building an equitable, clean energy economy that will tackle the climate crisis and improve working and living conditions for all Mainers. Importantly, these recommendations can be tested at the city and county level and then scaled to the state level based on their demonstrated effectiveness.

Today also marks the launching of the Maine Labor Climate Council, a new coalition of unions across Maine united to win pro-worker climate action. If all of the recommendations of Cornell’s report are implemented, it would create 10,000 to 20,000 good jobs annually for the next twenty years in Maine, depending on the scale of implementation and duration of the projects, the coalition said.

“Our research underscored what working Mainers already know to be true: climate breakdown is real, and it's hitting workers and under-resourced communities first and worst. The good news is that it doesn't have to be this way. Our report outlines a science-based roadmap for Maine that would slash carbon emissions, transition the state to an equitable renewable energy economy, and create family-sustaining union jobs in communities that need them most. This report is an ambitious vision for pro-worker climate action that meets the scale of this crisis and addresses long-standing racial and economic inequality," says Lara Skinner, Director, Labor Leading on Climate Initiative, at the Worker Institute, Cornell ILR School and one of the authors of the report.

View a summary of the report’s recommendations and the full report online here.