Thursday, September 4, 2008

Obama Boasts Plans for Millions of New GREEN COLLAR Jobs That Cannot be Outsourced; Can He Deliver? Hillary Says NO!!

The following series of articles discusses the pledge made by Blue Party Presidential Candidate Barack Obama during 2007-2008 to deliver 5 million 'Green Collar' jobs to Americans over the next decade.

One immediate problem emphasized by these articles is that there is no universal definition of ‘green jobs’ – i.e., the term ‘green collar’ continues to be debated. There are basically four different definitions of the term ‘green collar’ job:

1) It is a blue-collar job that has been upgraded to address the environmental challenges of our country;

2) It has to do something useful for people, and it has to be helpful to, or at least not damaging to, the environment;

3) It concerns a product or skill that encourages energy efficiency and the environmentally-friendly manufacture or use of other products;

4) It entails highly trained technical jobs that are different from blue collar jobs.

Since ‘green-collar jobs’ “can run the gamut from park rangers to Prius mechanics to physicists fiddling with nano photovoltaic research”, the key is to separate the real green-collar jobs from pseudo green-collar jobs.

Is THIS considered a Green Collar Service Job??

Media commentators have noted that “there can be a strong temptation towards what might be called ‘green-collar inflation’, because the idea that environmentalism can actually add jobs is [central] to the new arguments for global warming action.” “Touting green-collar jobs can convince skeptical, blue-collar Americans that they have an economic stake in curbing climate change.”

Other ‘experts have emphasized how “labor unions view these new jobs as replacements for positions lost to overseas manufacturing and outsourcing, [and how] urban groups view training in green jobs as a route out of poverty.

Unfortunately, these same commentators and experts recognize that it is “far from certain that green-collar jobs will ever reach the critical mass that supporters hope [to achieve].” “Even advocates say there's no guarantee that many of the new jobs will require much skill or pay a livable wage.”

“Many [critics] say those promises are inflated, and the employment projections overstated, because jobs will be lost as companies convert to renewable energy and reduce carbon emissions.” And, “[i]ndustry representatives say the promise of a green-collar workforce also masks manufacturing and construction job losses and other job losses that would be created by the higher cost of renewable energy and the expense of carbon reduction. Some studies of cap-and-trade systems predict big job losses because of the increased cost of energy and of reducing carbon emissions. A March 14 study by the Environmental Protection Agency predicted that a cap-and-trade system under consideration in the Senate would likely cut into the economy's growth and raise electricity costs.”

"One group is seeking to reframe the global-warming debate to focus on the economic opportunities of going green rather than the cost of transition, and is concentrating on local training programs for the uneducated, ex-convicts, the illiterate and others with barriers to employment. Green-collar jobs are manual-labor jobs that can't be outsourced. Putting people to work that entails weatherizing millions of buildings, putting up solar panels, constructing wind farms. Those green-collar jobs can provide a pathway out of poverty for someone who has not gone to college"

Notwithstanding the different definitions advanced by various advocates of ‘green collar’ jobs, this much is agreed upon. “By their nature, green jobs are local: The money stays in the community, and green jobs can't be outsourced.” “One strength of green jobs is that they
“can’t be outsourced.” “Green jobs are especially good 'because they cannot be easily outsourced, say, to Asia'” “These jobs have to be done in the United States.”

Connecticut Post
Forum & Polls
Connecticut Post -->
Green jobs can't be outsourced
The job of someone who is weather-stripping your house cannot be outsourced overseas.
Full Story:
Connecticut Post , at:

“A few examples [include]: solar panel manufacturing and other renewable-energy efforts.” “Solar, wind and biofuels are all growing alternatives, and these fairly young industries will need people — people to produce, install and sell their products.”

Hillary Clinton dismissed Barack Obama’s plan "to create 5 million new, green collar jobs…My opponent doesn't have much experience creating jobs at all."


New Energy for America
5 Million Green Collar Jobs
A Bold New National Goal on Energy Efficiency
American Energy

Read the New Energy for America plan
Watch Barack's speech in Lansing, MI on his new energy plan:

Obama’s comprehensive New Energy for America plan will:

· Provide short-term relief to American families facing pain at the pump

· Help create five million new jobs by strategically investing $150 billion over the next ten years to catalyze private efforts to build a clean energy future.

· Within 10 years save more oil than we currently import from the Middle East and Venezuela combined.

· Put 1 million Plug-In Hybrid cars -- cars that can get up to 150 miles per gallon -- on the road by 2015, cars that we will work to make sure are built here in America.

· Ensure 10 percent of our electricity comes from renewable sources by 2012, and 25 percent by 2025.

· Implement an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.

Create Millions of New Green Jobs

· Ensure 10 percent of Our Electricity Comes from Renewable Sources by 2012, and 25 percent by 2025.

· Deploy the Cheapest, Cleanest, Fastest Energy Source -- Energy Efficiency.
Obama will set an aggressive energy efficiency goal -- to reduce electricity demand 15 percent from projected levels by 2020.

· Weatherize One Million Homes Annually.
Obama will make a national commitment to weatherize at least one million low-income homes each year for the next decade, which can reduce energy usage across the economy and help moderate energy prices for all.

· Develop and Deploy Clean Coal Technology.
Obama’s Department of Energy will enter into public private partnerships to develop five “first-of-a-kind” commercial scale coal-fired plants with clean carbon capture and sequestration technology.

· Prioritize the Construction of the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline.
As president, Obama will work with stakeholders to facilitate construction of the pipeline. Not only is this pipeline critical to our energy security, it will create thousands of new jobs.



Barack Obama will invest $150 billion over 10 years to advance the next generation of biofuels and fuel infrastructure, accelerate the commercialization of plug-in hybrids, promote development of commercial scale renewable energy, invest in low emissions coal plants, and begin transition to a new digital electricity grid. A principal focus of this fund will be devoted to ensuring that technologies are developed in the U.S. and are rapidly commercialized in the U.S. and deployed around the globe. [DOES THIS MEAN 'MADE IN USA'??] These investments will help states like Pennsylvania revitalize local economies. For example, a study by the Apollo Alliance projected that Pennsylvania could have the sixth largest green manufacturing job growth if the U.S. takes reasonable steps to curb future carbon emissions.

Invest in U.S. Manufacturing: The Obama comprehensive energy independence and climate change plan will invest in America’s highly-skilled manufacturing workforce and manufacturing centers to ensure that American workers have the skills and tools they need to pioneer the first wave of green technologies that will be in high demand throughout the world. Obama will also provide specific tax assistance and loan guarantees to the domestic auto industry to ensure that new fuel-efficient cars and trucks are build in the U.S. with American workers. [MANUFACTURE WHAT, EXACTLY??]

Create New Job Training Programs for Clean Technologies: The Obama plan will increase funding for federal workforce training programs and direct these programs to incorporate green technologies training, such as advanced manufacturing and weatherization training, into their efforts to help Americans find and retain stable, high-paying jobs. Obama will also create an energy-focused youth jobs program to invest in disconnected and disadvantaged youth.

Boost the Renewable Energy Sector and Create New Jobs: The Obama plan will create new federal policies, and expand existing ones, that have been proven to create new American jobs. Obama will create a federal Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) that will require 25 percent of American electricity be derived from renewable sources by 2025, which has the potential to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs on its own. Obama will also extend the Production Tax Credit, a credit used successfully by American farmers and investors to increase renewable energy production and create new local jobs. [WILL THE WINDMILLS & SOLAR PANELS COME FROM AMERICAN or FOREIGN FACTORIES??]


The Green Collar Job Myth

US News & World Report - Capital Commerce Blog

August 27, 2008 01:47 PM ET James Pethokoukis

Jimmy P. at the DNC—Another staple of the many convention speeches is the claim that Obamanomics, via government "investment," will create five million "green collar" jobs. But here's the thing: These jobs are, for the most part, not the kind of gigs many middle class folks would have much interest in doing: bike repair, hazardous material cleanup, landscaping, tree cutting, attic insulation, large-scale green waste composting.

Then again, these jobs really aren't geared toward the middle class to begin with. A 2007 report by the city of Berkeley—of course!—described the potential pool of applicants for green collar jobs this way: "Youth and adults who do not have a high school degree, have been out of the labor market for a long time, were formerly incarcerated, have limited education and/or labor market skills." So basically we're are talking about matching low-skill folks with low-wage jobs. For the really high-paying green jobs, you have to look at the firms being created by entrepreneurs and financed by venture capital, with or without federal tax subsidies. But there's been no mention of that in Denver.



Hillary Clinton talks up 'green-collar' jobs in convention speech

Posted by Declan McCullagh

August 26, 2008

DENVER--During the primary campaign, Hillary Clinton lashed out at her rival, saying she was the only candidate with the right plan "to create 5 million new, green collar jobs." She dismissed Barack Obama thusly: "My opponent doesn't have much experience creating jobs at all."

Through his Web site, Obama responded that he had a better plan to create "5 million green collar jobs." On Tuesday evening here at the Democratic convention, the Democrats' intra-party dispute over who had the best plan to create "5 million green collar jobs" officially ended. In a speech that extolled the virtues of working together to defeat Sen. John McCain, Clinton said her onetime rival from Illinois "is my candidate and he must be our president."

Joined by her husband, Bill Clinton, and daughter, Chelsea Clinton, the New York senator acquiesced on the green-jobs point. Obama will "transform our energy agenda by creating millions of green jobs and building a new, clean energy future," she acknowledged.

Except for Clinton loyalists, including some delegates who staged a rally in her support outside the Pepsi Center, this may put to rest the key question of who had the more efficacious plan--while not answering who came up with it first. The Obama campaign's "factcheck" site claims that "Obama advocated for green-collar jobs for years--and unveiled his plan a month before Clinton unveiled hers." (In an article titled "It's Not Easy Being Green-Collar," Forbes outlined this dispute.)

The issue of green jobs is likely to reappear again in the general election this fall, and Obama has some competition.

McCain, the Republican candidate for president, also says he has a plan for green jobs, but doesn't seem to say how many millions of jobs he'll create: "Green jobs and green technology will be vital to our economic future. There is no reason that the U.S. should not be a leader in developing and deploying these new technologies."


Barack Obama and His “Plan” to Create Five Million New Green Jobs

Posted by Mike Sylvester - 8/18/08 @ 3:00 am - Filed Under 2008 National Elections

Fort Wayne Blog

I am getting sick and tired of hearing the commercial where Barack Obama promises to “create five million new green jobs.” This commercial has aired over and over in Indiana and ANYONE who reads his plan and thinks that it is going to create five million new green jobs needs to report to a medical institution because they need to “have their head examined.” Here is the plan.

Five million jobs is a whole lot of jobs. The entire civilian workforce in the US is a little over 145 million people. So if Barack Obama’s adds five million new green jobs then one in every 33 jobs in the United States would be a new “green” job…

The entire United States military including all active duty members, reserve members, and national guard members is a little over 2.8 million strong.

Barack Obama is claiming he can spend 150 billion dollars and create five million green jobs.

Does ANYONE believe this absurd claim other then completely blind and partisan supporters of Barack Obama?

Mike Sylvester


Joyce Lain Kennedy: Green jobs don't guarantee security

08:26 AM CDT on Monday, July 7, 2008

Tribune Media Services

Now that the term green-collar jobs is sweeping the presidential campaign trail, is the growth of a stronger environmental ethic worldwide actually creating new opportunities for earth-friendly careers? Or is green-collar job a buzzword in search of a definition? I'm a mom, a teacher and maybe a future career-changer.

SANDY HUFFAKER/The Associated Press

The best way to ensure job security in a green-collar job is to make sure it's local, such as servicing wind turbines. Engineers and scientists are more at risk. [WHY NOT MANUFACTURING WIND TURBINES???]

Green jobs, also called green-collar jobs, generally describe employment that protects or improves environmental quality. But after that, there's no universal definition of the green jobs sector.

Choosing career fields and industries where you and others can find a green job depends upon whether you want to work sitting down; in occupational groups such as science, engineering or business; or standing up, in blue-collar occupations.

Standing: Politicians and environmentalists are focusing on retooling blue-collar workers for jobs in the "booming clean and green economy." They believe that green work opportunities are arriving in the nick of time for Americans as the blue-collar jobs dry up or ship out.

They point out that by their nature, green jobs are local: The money stays in the community, and green jobs can't be outsourced. A few examples: solar panel manufacturing [??] and other renewable-energy efforts, green building construction, sustainable forestry, safe food and water, and resource conservation.

MARK LENNIHAN/The Associated Press

Solar panels on a Rockefeller Center building require workers to maintain them, potentially helping to create an industry with thousands of jobs. But the slow economy may prove to be a drag on new positions.

Sitting: Companies hire a variety of scientists and engineers to work on renewable-energy technology and businesspeople to market earth-friendly products.

Individuals turning toward green jobs may be first- or second-time career choosers.

Concerns for the planet are ramping up students' career choices at educational institutions. Student interests range from gaining expertise in "green mobility" (breakthroughs in alternative fuels to power transportation) and energy-saving construction, to protecting threatened species and saving endangered areas of the globe.

But before plunging into a career motivated by uninformed enthusiasm, students should carefully and realistically research their potential choices. As veteran career counselor Marty Nemko ( has pointed out, jobs such as engineering in green science that require very high-level training and skills are at risk of being offshored. Any work that can be digitized or moved to a cheaper labor market is at risk.

Professional workers who seek a midcareer change away from work that's dimmed for them are increasingly eying green fields, hoping to seize the potential of doing good while doing well.

Consider the architect who chucks his profession – and takes a big cut in pay – to become an activist running a think tank or the human resources manager at an old-industry company who stays in her profession but applies it to a new job at an organic foods enterprise.

In the short term, expect a lull in the race to green up because the downturn in today's economy tempts employers to cut back on anything not strictly necessary.

In the long term, there's plenty of evidence that green is the color of change in the 21st century.

Tribune Media Services

Green industries Offer Job Growth Opportunity:
Alternative energy, recycling firms offering employment opportunities

By Eve Tahmincioglu

MSNBC contributor

updated 9:41 p.m. ET, Tues., May. 27, 2008

When a Republican candidate for president starts talking about limiting greenhouse gases during a speech at a wind turbine plant you know there’s an environmental wave going on.

All the presidential candidates, including John McCain who spoke about climate change at a wind energy facility in Oregon this month, have green initiatives on their agendas, and states across the country are embarking on initiatives to cut pollution and a reliance on fossil fuels. Not to mention homeowners who don’t want to be at the mercy of electric and oil companies.

Solar, wind and biofuels are all growing alternatives, and these fairly young industries will need people — people to produce, install and sell their products.

That means a wave of employment opportunities — so-called green-collar jobs — could sweep the nation.

Samuel Pagan is already a beneficiary. This former steelworker now works at a wind turbine plant owned by Gamesa Wind USA in Fairless Hills, Pa.

Pagan was sick of the ups and downs of old-line manufacturing and saw wind as a growth industry. “I was looking for more stability,” he explains. He needed little training because he had assembly experience and was able to quickly step into his new career, doing mechanical assembly of mainframes for wind turbines.

“It’s a new industry and a new company and there’s opportunity here,” says Pagan, who admits he’s not really a tree hugger but just wanted a stable job.

Brian von Moos, business development manager for Borrego Solar Systems in Berkeley, Calif., has always been environmentally conscious and got into the solar industry for that reason.

Right after college, von Moos worked for a law firm and considered going to law school, but after traveling for a year he decided to go into renewable energy instead. He saw it “as a way to make a difference in the world. I’m passionate about the technology as a solution to pollution and global warming. I wanted to be a part of it.”

Pagan and von Moos represent the two types of employees that will become the backbone of the green labor force — former blue-collar and white-collar workers looking for new opportunities.

Some experts project an explosion of such jobs, but no one really knows how many green-collar jobs there are today because the government doesn’t even have such a category.

Even the meaning of the word “green collar” is up for debate. Many experts lump together green industry manufacturing positions and office jobs under the same green-collar umbrella, although Raquel Pinderhughes, a professor at San Francisco State University who says she coined the term “green collar,” says it originally referred to only blue-collar type positions.

For the purposes of my column, I will be using green-collar to describe jobs from the office to the factory floor.

Estimates vary widely on the size of the opportunity.

One environmental coalition, the Apollo Alliance, projects 3 million green-collar jobs will be created in the next decade, based on planned public and private investment of some $300 billion.

Richard Kearney, director of the School of Public and International Affairs at North Carolina State University, puts the figure closer to 100,000 new jobs in the next few years.

In any case, green industries are growing at a time when many others are shrinking and layinf off workers, offering at least a glimmer of hope.

“If you’re looking for lifetime employment this is the opportunity for you,” says Bronwyn Llewellyn, co author of “Green Jobs: A Guide to Eco-Friendly Employment.”

The key is to separate the real green-collar jobs from pseudo green-collar jobs, she says.

While some traditional firms have added environmentally safe products or tout green initiatives, a truly green company is dedicated to producing renewable energy or products and environmentally sound services.

Workers need to keep their eyes peeled for these green-collar job ads because they will be delivered through “discrete sectors of the economy” — everything from bicycle repair to organic food production, says Pinderhughes.

The fastest-growing sectors, she adds, will be recycling, energy efficiency, solar, wind and water conservation.

Borrego, the solar company where von Moos works, already has increased its work force this year by more than 10 percent to 144 employees. “Right now we have an open requisition for field people, sales people, middle managers and a CFO,” he adds.

Workers are increasingly looking to see what green-collar jobs are out there., the job board giant, has seen a jump in the last 12 months of people searching for environmental service jobs, up to 1.37 million job searches in April from about half that a year earlier, says a spokesperson for the company.

The process for finding a green-collar job is similar that of any other job, but be prepared to explain why you want to work in a green industry, and you might need to be flexible about relocating, says Llewellyn.

In the “Green Jobs” book, she and her co-authors stress thinking outside the corporate box: “There’s a chance that the dream green job you desire just isn’t out there or available in the place you want to live or the industry you want to work for. The new green economy is going to have plenty of room for innovative thinkers and entrepreneurial types who have what it takes to strike out on their own.”

Don’t expect a financial windfall in the green-collar sector, at least not right away. Wages are typically on par with or a bit less than traditional employment, especially among manufacturing jobs. Some workers are covered by unions.

Gamesa has created 1,160 jobs in Pennsylvania, including 955 manufacturing positions.

“These are good-paying jobs, with workers earning $12 to $18 an hour on average,” says Kurt Knaus, a spokesman for the company, adding that the workers are represented by the United Steelworkers.

Some believe there are more opportunities to advance in green jobs because the industry is still in its infancy and someone who works hard can easily make a mark.

Pagan started full time with Gamesa in early 2007 and is now team leader in the quality control area.

“Today, I make 20 to 25 percent more than when I started,” he says. “I’ve worked for other places, shown myself, tried to improve, but I was not given the opportunities that I got here.”

Brad Mohring, a former designer for an automotive supplier outside of Toledo, was laid off in early 2007 and applied to a host of traditional firms in auto, defense, etc.

He decided to take a job as senior designer for Xunlight, a solar energy company, even though other companies offered more money.

“Every day I’m learning something and it was a chance to get in on the ground floor of a company. I was the 20th person hired here,” he explains.

“And,” he adds, “I know it sounds cheesy, but I’ve got a 2-year-old and a 3-month-old. I want to leave a better place for them to grow up in.”

© 2008 MSNBC Interactive


Going Green - What Is a Green-Collar Job, Exactly?

By Bryan Walsh

May 26, 2008

What do presidential candidates John McCain, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have in common — aside from the obvious? They all love green-collar jobs. Obama promises to spend $150 billion over 10 years to create 5 million new green-collar jobs. Clinton references the term repeatedly on the trail, and says her energy plan will create millions of new green-collar jobs as well. McCain is less willing to cite numbers, but he too assures campaign audiences that action to decarbonize America's economy will produce "thousands, millions of new jobs in America."

All of which sounds great — we clean up the environment, control global warming and create an entirely new sector of employment while we're at it. Academics have released lots of studies trumpeting the potential for green jobs — one report by the RAND Corporation and University of Tennessee found that if 25% of all American energy were produced from renewable sources by 2025, we would generate at least 5 million new green jobs. But there are just a few questions: what is green-collar? What makes it different from blue- or white-collar? And where will those jobs come from? [FROM WHAT BASES IN REALITY DO THE AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS HARKEN??]

Phil Angelides has the answers — or at least one of them. A venture capitalist and the 2006 Democratic candidate for governor of California (he lost to the political world's best-known Austrian-American), Angelides is the chair of the Apollo Alliance, a coalition of business, labor and environmental groups championing green employment. Here's how he defines a green job: "It has to pay decent wages and benefits that can support a family. It has to be part of a real career path, with upward mobility. And it needs to reduce waste and pollution and benefit the environment." (Hear Angelides discuss the green-collar revolution on this week's Greencast.)

Sounds simple enough. And there are some jobs that fall obviously into the green-collar category, like the hundreds of employees who now work for the Spanish wind company Gamesa at its new plant in Fairless Hills, Pa. — a plant built on the site of an old U.S. Steel manufacturing facility. If you make wind turbines or solar panels, your job is reliably green. But Angelides and his allies want to cast a wider net. To them, a green-collar job can be anything that helps put America on the path to a cleaner, more energy efficient future. That means jobs in the public transit sector, jobs in green building, jobs in energy efficiency — even traditional, blue-collar manufacturing jobs, provided what you're making is more or less green. (Building an SUV? Blue-collar. Building a hybrid? Green-collar.) The category can get a little messy. "You don't want to greenwash," says Angelides. "You don't want to call something a green-collar job that doesn't have the wages or background to support it."

But there can be a strong temptation towards what might be called green-collar inflation, because the idea that environmentalism can actually add jobs is key to the new arguments for global warming action. On the surface, cap and trade and other anti–climate change policies look like short-term economic losers that will raise the cost of energy and lead to job loss. Certainly that's the argument of many conservatives — a study by the National Association of Manufacturers estimated that one of the main carbon cap-and-trade proposals before Congress would cost the U.S. economy up to 4 million jobs by 2030.

But environmental groups like the Apollo Alliance flip that criticism around, arguing that the hard work of decarbonizing the American economy will actually create millions of new jobs. Someone, after all, will need to produce alternative power, increase energy efficiency and overhaul wasteful buildings. Angelides notes that between now and 2030, 75% of the buildings in the U.S. will either be new or substantially rehabilitated. Our inefficient, dangerously unstable electrical grid will need to be overhauled. The jobs that will go into that kind of work can be green-collar — provided that the government adopts the kind of policies that incentivize environmentally friendly choices. "Green jobs won't be sprouting up only in new technology fields" like solar energy, says Angelides, whose group is calling for a $300 billion investment in green jobs over the next 10 years. "We'll be creating jobs in the industrial sector."

In other words, blue-collar can become green. It's no surprise that one of the biggest supporters of the Apollo Alliance is the United Steelworkers Alliance — labor leaders see green jobs as a way to fight outsourcing and keep manufacturing alive in America. And there is a strong political component to green-collar jobs, which is why presidential candidates love talking about them so much. Environmentalism has usually been the reserve of the elite — but we'll never have the power to tackle global warming unless we create a coalition that extends well beyond traditional white-collar greens. Touting green-collar jobs can convince skeptical, blue-collar Americans that they have an economic stake in curbing climate change. It's far from certain that green-collar jobs will ever reach the critical mass that supporters like Angelides hope, but any idea that can bring Obama, McCain and Clinton together can't be all bad — and it may help bring the rest of us together too.


Obama, Clinton `Green' Workforce Pledges May Fall Short on Jobs

By Lorraine Woellert

May 13 (Bloomberg) -- Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both pledge to spend $150 billion to clean up the environment, lower energy use, help build subways -- and in the process create 5 million so-called green-collar jobs.

This “mission” will “excite the young people like the space race did in another generation,'' Clinton said at an April 24 rally in Asheville, North Carolina. Obama says the new jobs he envisions will “pay well and can't be outsourced.''

Many experts say those promises are inflated, and the employment projections overstated, because jobs will be lost as companies convert to renewable energy and reduce carbon emissions.

“We're going to create a job-training bureaucracy to teach people to use a caulking gun,'' said David Kreutzer, an energy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based research group that favors reduced government involvement in the economy.

Even advocates say there's no guarantee that many of the new jobs will require much skill or pay a livable wage. ``Green'' jobs can encompass solar-panel installers and bio- diesel mechanics; they can also include security guards at wind farms, bicycle messengers and even maintenance workers.

“It's a legitimate red flag,'' said Phil Angelides, the former California state treasurer and gubernatorial candidate who is now a principal in Canyon Capital Realty Advisors and an adviser to Clinton. ``You have to make a commitment, so in the end this doesn't turn out to be an economic transformation where very few advance.''
10-Year Plan

The two Democratic presidential candidates, who regularly tout their plans on the campaign trail, would invest money over 10 years to help build mass transit, weatherize drafty public buildings and eliminate incandescent light bulbs, among other things.

Their plans, which are nearly identical, call for investment in alternative energy, funded partially by a federal carbon cap-and-trade system that would limit greenhouse-gas emissions and auction off pollution credits. Both promise to put more plug-in cars on the road and shift to high-technology energy grids to reduce peak demand for electricity. They would seek to reduce carbon emissions to 80 percent of 1990 levels by 2050.

Obama, 46, an Illinois senator, told reporters in Indianapolis last month such a plan would mean millions of jobs. Such projections are misleading because they include work that would be created in any growing economy, Kreutzer said.

Masking Job Losses

Industry representatives say the promise of a green-collar workforce also masks job losses that would be created by the higher cost of renewable energy and the expense of carbon reduction. Some studies of cap-and-trade systems predict big job losses because of the increased cost of energy and of reducing carbon emissions.

Depending on how fast the U.S. adopts renewable-energy sources, a cap-and-trade system could cost between 3 million and 4 million jobs by 2030, said Margo Thorning, chief economist for the American Council for Capital Formation, a Washington-based research group funded by business interests.

“We've been pouring taxpayer money into these projects, and they're still not price-competitive,'' Thorning said.

A March 14 study by the Environmental Protection Agency predicted that a cap-and-trade system under consideration in the Senate would likely cut into the economy's growth and raise electricity costs.

Pennsylvania Pioneer

Obama and Clinton, 60, a New York senator, both point to the example of Pennsylvania, where Gamesa Corp. Tecnologica SA set up shop in 2005. Zamudio, Spain-based Gamesa, the world's second-biggest wind-turbine maker, hired 1,300 people to build turbines, including 900 union workers earning $12 to $18 an hour.

Gamesa in return won up to $25 million in state grants, low-cost loans and other incentives. And it had a guaranteed customer -- the electric utilities that supply the state of Pennsylvania, which has set a goal of buying 18 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2021.

The Clinton and Obama plans borrow heavily from a concept developed by the Apollo Alliance, a San Francisco-based coalition of labor, environmentalist, business and social- justice leaders.

The four-year-old alliance is seeking to reframe the global-warming debate to focus on the economic opportunities of going green rather than the cost of transition.

Angelides, 54, is chairman of the group, and its founding executive director, Bracken Hendricks, is advising Obama.

Poor Pay

The movement so far is concentrating on local training programs for the uneducated, ex-convicts, the illiterate and others with barriers to employment. The jobs often pay poorly and require little skill.

Dana Stein, executive director of Civic Works Inc., a green-jobs-training program in Baltimore, said his employees start at $7.50 an hour. Upon graduation, some land low-paying positions that aren't necessarily related to green energy or conservation.

“Some may start out as the equivalent of a laborer,”' Stein said, while others win apprenticeship slots that offer more earning potential.

Hendricks says a job shouldn't be called ``green'' unless it pays a livable wage or offers career advancement.

``It's not automatic that they would be good jobs,'' Hendricks said. ``We need to make sure that we're doing this in a way that creates career ladders.''

To contact the reporter on this story: Lorraine Woellert in Washington at
Last Updated: May 13, 2008 00:01 EDT


The True Color of “Green-Collar” Jobs - Press wrestles with definition and economic reality

By Russ Juskalian Thu 1 May 2008 12:29 PM

Columbia Journalism Review

When John Edwards bowed out of the Democratic primary in January, the presidential race lost its most vocal supporter of so called green-collar jobs. His former opponents have carried the mantle forward, however-Senator Hillary Clinton in particular, who introduced an amendment to the 2007 energy bill, calling for green-collar job training.

“Green-collar” is a relatively new title. A few articles have claimed that the first usage was during congressional hearings in the 1970s. In 1991, The New York Times quoted a New York City Commissioner who complained about “green-collar fraud,” referring to companies hawking bogus environmentally-friendly products.

The term took firm root in 1999, when Alan Thein Durning wrote a book called Green Collar Jobs. But then, silence. Not until around 2006 did a handful of green-collar stories really start to pop up again, giving way to a torrent in 2007 and 2008. The press had already developed a case of green fever, showing a particular affinity for “green business” stories. Slowly, and with candidates dropping the term so often, reporters’ attention has moved down the managerial ladder, to environmentally-friendly employment.

Stories like Karen Breslau’s Newsweek piece about the growth in the green-collar job market have sprouted all over the media, adopting a variety of angles. Even local papers are digging in; last week, The Connecticut Post published an interesting piece by its Money editor, Pam Dawkins, arguing that one strength of green jobs is that they “can’t be outsourced.”

Green jobs can't be outsourced - Pam Dawkins - Connecticut Post

Bridgeport— The job of someone who is weather-stripping your house cannot be outsourced overseas. And that's only one of the selling points for so-called "green" jobs — those with an environmental or sustainable aspect — that outlook was the topic of an event at The Barnum Museum. [full story]

On Sunday, The Mercury News in San Jose, California, published an op-ed written by a local high school teacher urging readers, “Let’s prepare valley kids to ride wave of green-collar jobs.”

If there is still any doubt that environmentally-friendly employment is a hot topic, the two remaining Democratic candidates should have laid it to rest with frequent promises that they will create five million green-collar jobs over ten years to assuage the nation’s economic and environmental woes. Last week, Clinton gave the nod to Earth Day and green jobs in her victory speech after the Pennsylvania primary.

This is all great news - we will not reduce greenhouse gas emissions unless we pay more attention to human capital in the new “green business” economy. As we’ve seen with other elements of the environmental revolution, however, there is plenty of fluff and a lot of explanation that needs to go along with lofty goals and propositions.

For starters, what is a green-collar job, exactly? The guy who installs solar panels for a living is safely in green-collar territory, but what about the engineer working at Chevron who spends half of his time on traditional, fossil-fuel energy sources and half of his time on renewables? How about the day-rate construction worker pouring concrete for a windmill farm-whose next gig is fixing the shoddy construction in Boston’s Big Dig? What about the workforce at an ethanol plant? Have those once green collars turned back to blue?

We can’t have an intelligent conversation about something if we don’t know what it is, but it might take a while to iron out the definition of a “green job.” In the meantime, it makes sense for journalists to report the lack of consensus. A good example was a New York Times article by Steven Greenhouse in March headlined, “Millions of Jobs of a Different Collar”. Greenhouse quotes three sources, with three different definitions:

• “A green-collar job is in essence a blue-collar job that has been upgraded to address the environmental challenges of our country.” [Lucy Blake, chief executive of the Apollo Alliance]

• “A green job has to do something useful for people, and it has to be helpful to, or at least not damaging to, the environment.” [Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club]
• “Ten years ago, that steel was used for making low-efficiency automobiles, so those jobs were part of the dirty economy […] But now that steel is being used to build wind turbines. So now you can call them green jobs.” [Dave Foster, executive director of the Blue Green Alliance]

Keith Johnson, at The Wall Street Journal’s Environmental Capital blog, noted the same discrepancy, coming to the conclusion that “in a nutshell: ‘green-collar jobs’ can run the gamut from park rangers to Prius mechanics to physicists fiddling with nano photovoltaic research.”

Assuming that reporters can come to grips with broad, but nuanced definitions, the next big question for the jamboree is how green jobs will actually affect the economy. To what degree will they replace blue-collar jobs that are expected to be lost in the transition away from a fossil-fuel economy? Can mid-career, blue-collar workers get the training, skills, and resources needed to make the switch to a green profession? Will any of these scenarios even put a dent in the U.S.’s economic turmoil? These questions will be even more difficult to answer than the problem of defining green-collar jobs, but a few journalists and academics have already begun the search.

Notably, rival radio news producers National Public Radio and Public Radio International have both done an admirable job of covering the political optimism behind green jobs and economic growth, as well as some of the pessimism - but hard numbers are rare in such reports.

To that end, Raquel Pinderhughes at San Francisco State University recently completed a study where she interviewed business owners around Berkeley in order gauge the green-collar market’s ability to “provide workers with limited skills with good jobs that can lift them out of poverty.” She found that out of more than twenty green businesses, 86 percent hire workers with no previous direct experience, and 94 percent provide on-the-job training for employees in entry-level positions. It is, admittedly, a small sample size from an area that already has a predisposition for green; nonetheless, the study is a step in the right direction.

Brita Belli, at E: The Environmental Magazine, took a crack at these questions, too, with her cover story, “Welcome to Green-Collar America.” She doesn’t nail the coverage, but she does give readers a quantitative idea of what’s going on with green employment:

The ten Midwestern states, ideally suited for wind energy development, could see nearly 37,000 new jobs by 2020, according to the Environmental Law and Policy Center, if the nation’s renewable energy portfolio were set to twenty-two percent.

The problem is that 37,000 jobs over twelve years will barely make a dent in the number of blue-collar jobs that are being lost. The U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in March alone, 48,000 manufacturing and 51,000 construction jobs were lost. E&E Publishing’s recently launched ClimateWire has done a particularly good job of parsing these statistics, especially in light of the presidential campaigns, but this is the kind of comparison more news outlets need to make.

During a contentious election season in which the candidates are relying heavily on viral buzzwords like “green jobs,” it’s all the more important for the press to parse the sound bites. Five million new jobs sounds great in a speech-especially to workers in ailing economies like those in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana-but it’s a disservice to the reader if there isn’t sufficient analysis of how such virescent promises may actually hold up.


New green collar workers as white and slightly racist as their blue-collar ancestors


April 29, 2008

While campaigning in Indiana on Sunday, Hillary Clinton explained how she will address the losses of white and blue collar jobs, saying "We're going to create green collar jobs."

What is a green collar job? One green CEO says, "[It] in essence a blue-collar job that has been upgraded to address... environmental challenges." And how do green-collar workers differ from their blue collar counterparts? We asked a former steel worker turned "renewable energy technician" to point out a few details on the job site:


Green Collar Jobs Defined

Written by Angelique van Engelen

March 29th, 2008


Green collar jobs are rapidly becoming fashionable. The new trend represents a shift to the mainstream of the good old environmentalist approach to life. But what exactly makes a job green? The experts are far from agreed.

Green collar jobs have a magic lure to them. Not only because the people involved in the sector are supposedly making a conscious effort to salvage what’s left of the earth’s natural resources, but also because they’re hoping to drag the ailing economy out of its current quagmire.

The environmentalist visionary Van Jones, who heads up the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland, is drawing massive crowds across the country to his speeches about the green sector. He has helped initiate a green jobs program in Oakland and it is in part due to his work that the Presidential candidates have included green collar jobs in their programs.

The Presidential candidates hope to use green collar jobs to fuel the economy in the future with millions of workers weatherizing homes, installing solar panels, concocting improved recipes for biofuel, adopting hybrid cars and of course building scores of wind turbines.

Hillary Clinton says she plans on creating 5 million green collar jobs and Barack Obama has also made the green business sector central to his energy plan. Former candidate John Edwards was talking about “one America in the new energy economy with green-collar jobs.”

Despite the political interest, it’s still too early to determine what the Green Collar job sector really amounts to. The first contours of a legislative framework are visible. Congress passed a $125 million green-collar jobs program last December, with at least 20 percent targeted at reducing poverty. And a total of 28 states have legislation in place that mandates 10 to 25 percent of energy to be sourced from renewables over the next 10 or 20 years. Oakland, California, launched the the Oil Independent Oakland By 2020 Task Force at the end of 2006 and was also the first to sign the Oil Depletion Protocol, an non-government organized protocol which guides communities and private persons reducing their oil dependency.

Official statistics on worker numbers don’t exist yet. People involved in the regulatory issues complain that there is a lack of guidance on the part of the policy makers at the Federal level on sustainable energy policy issues. For the moment, the green sector is mainly driven by businesses, industry and individual home owners keen to promote energy conservation.

Establishing credibility is a challenge for green businesses. Hopes are high, but with no track record, fear of unrealistic optimism is inevitable. Because of the economic dimensions associated with the green collar job sector, naysayers are already questioning its “staying power.” The danger here is that if the nation’s job market as a whole doesn’t improve as a result of going green, the magic might wear off. The “having your cake and eating it too” attitude which demands that green growth will save not only the planet but the entire US economy could smother the concept of sound living. Let’s hope that a sense of realism sinks in before the green job sector really takes off. There’s still time, because there’s no convergence of opinion of what actually makes a job green.

Check out the widely varying opinions on this issue among green job advocates quoted in the New York Times;

Blue Green Alliance (the Minnesota partnership between the United Steelworkers and the Sierra Club): There’s little difference between blue collar and green collar jobs. It depends on the product that’s made. Cars obviously don’t make a green product, but wind turbines do.

American Solar Energy Society: there are 8.5 million jobs in renewable energy or energy efficient industries.

Apollo Alliance (A coalition of environmental groups, labor unions and politicians to guide the US economy into a renewable energy based economy): A green-collar job is, in essence, a blue-collar job that has been upgraded to address environmental challenges. Believes there will be 3 to 5 million more green jobs by 2018.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute: Argues that green jobs often don’t create jobs on a net basis because green jobs created will lead to vanishing jobs in another sector. CEI opposes official legislation promoting renewable energy.

Plextronics (a company that makes polymer ink parts for solar panels): Green jobs are vastly different from blue collar jobs because many people involved in green work are highly trained.

The term Green Collar Jobs was first coined by Alan Durning in his 1999 book Green Collar Jobs. The book described the changes in the post logging rural towns of the Pacific Northwest, from economic dependence on resource extraction from timber to green collar jobs such as sustainable forestry, ecosystem restoration and tourism.

The term came into widespread use in 2006 when San Francisco State University Urban Studies professor Raquel Pinderhughes first defined green collar jobs. She said they are “manual-labor jobs in businesses (or other enterprises) whose products and services directly improve environmental quality.” Pinderhughes, who is associated with the Ella Baker Center and Green for All, wrote a landmark study commissioned by the City of Berkeley’s Office of Energy and Sustainable Development. She identified 22 economic sectors in which green jobs are located including green building, energy retrofits and sustainable food production.

Millions of Jobs of a Different Collar


March 26, 2008

EVERYONE knows what blue-collar and white-collar jobs are, but now a job of another hue — green — has entered the lexicon.

Presidential candidates talk about the promise of “green collar” jobs — an economy with millions of workers installing solar panels, weatherizing homes, brewing biofuels, building hybrid cars and erecting giant wind turbines. Labor unions view these new jobs as replacements for positions lost to overseas manufacturing and outsourcing. Urban groups view training in green jobs as a route out of poverty. And environmentalists say they are crucial to combating climate change.

No doubt that the number of green-collar jobs is growing, as homeowners, business and industry shift toward conservation and renewable energy. And the numbers are expected to increase greatly in the next few decades, because state governments have mandated that even more energy come from alternative sources.

But some skeptics argue that the phrase “green jobs” is little more than a trendy term for politicians and others to bandy about. Some say they are not sure that these jobs will have the staying power to help solve the problems of the nation’s job market, and others note that green jobs often pay less than the old manufacturing jobs they are replacing.

Indeed, such is the novelty of the green-job concept that no one is certain how many such jobs there are, and even advocates don’t always agree on what makes a job green.

“A green-collar job is in essence a blue-collar job that has been upgraded to address the environmental challenges of our country,” said Lucy Blake, chief executive of the Apollo Alliance, a coalition of environmental groups, labor unions and politicians seeking to transform the economy into one based on renewable energy.

Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club, said: “A green job has to do something useful for people, and it has to be helpful to, or at least not damaging to, the environment.”

It can be difficult to parse the difference between green- and blue-collar jobs. Dave Foster, executive director of the Blue Green Alliance, a partnership between the United Steelworkers and the Sierra Club, pointed to workers who mine iron ore in Minnesota and ship it to steel mills in Indiana. “Ten years ago, that steel was used for making low-efficiency automobiles, so those jobs were part of the dirty economy,” he said. “But now that steel is being used to build wind turbines. So now you can call them green jobs.”

But to Andrew W. Hannah, chief executive of Plextronics, a start-up in Pittsburgh, green-collar jobs often have little relation to their blue-collar counterparts. His company produces high-tech polymer inks that are used to make electronic circuitry for solar panels. Of the company’s 51 employees, 20 have Ph.D.’s in fields like physics, chemistry and material science.

It is hard to gauge the number of green-collar jobs nationwide. Welders at a wind-turbine factory are viewed as having green jobs, but what about the factory’s accountant or its janitors? Workers with Sustainable South Bronx, a nonprofit group that plants vegetation to keep the area cooler and reduce air-conditioning demands, would seem to fit the bill. But so would the employees of Tesla Motors, south of San Francisco, who are producing an all-electric Roadster that sells for $98,000.

In the most-often-cited estimate, a report commissioned by the American Solar Energy Society said that the nation had 8.5 million jobs in renewable energy or energy efficient industries. And Jerome Ringo, president of the Apollo Alliance, predicted that the nation could generate three million to five million more green jobs over the next 10 years.

Green jobs are especially good “because they cannot be easily outsourced, say, to Asia,” said Van Jones, president of Green for All, an organization based in Oakland, Calif., whose goal is promoting renewable energy and lifting workers out of poverty. “If we are going to weatherize buildings, they have to be weatherized here,” he said. “If you put up solar panels, you can’t ship a building to Asia and have them put the solar panels on and ship it back. These jobs have to be done in the United States.”

Many advocates of green employment say the jobs should be good for the workers as well as the environment. Two weeks ago in Pittsburgh, more than 800 people attended a national green-jobs conference, where much of the talk was about ensuring that green jobs provided living wages. Many speakers anticipated that the jobs would do so, because they often required special skills, like the technical ability to maintain a giant wind turbine (and the physical ability to climb a 20-story ladder to work on it).

“These jobs will be better for the workers’ future, for their job security,” said Ms. Blake of the Apollo Alliance. “These green technologies are making products that the world wants, like energy-efficient buildings and light fixtures.”

Not everyone, however, is enamored with green jobs. Take the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a Washington group that opposes state mandates requiring that a certain percentage of power come from renewable sources. Myron Ebell, the institute’s director of energy and global warming policy, argues that creating green jobs often does not create jobs on a net basis.

“If you create jobs in wind power or ethanol,” he said, “that will take away jobs in other industries,” like building and operating conventional gas turbine power plants.

Mr. Ebell suggested that green jobs might not prove to be so great. “There will undoubtedly be a lot of jobs created in industries that are considered green or fashionable,” he said. “Some will last a long time, and some will go like the dot-coms.”

Twenty-eight states have mandates generally requiring that 10 to 25 percent of their energy be obtained through renewable sources in a decade or two. In response, many companies have rushed to build wind- and solar-power systems, and some are researching how to transform prairie grass into biofuel.

Joy Clark-Holmes, director of public sector markets for Johnson Controls, which manages heating and cooling systems in buildings nationwide, sees strong job growth in the green economy. Her company’s building efficiency business, she said, expects to hire 60,000 workers worldwide over the next decade.

“We see the market for greening our customers as growing,” Ms. Clark-Holmes said. She talked of demand for technicians who install and maintain heating and cooling systems, managers who oversee those functions and engineers who develop and design such systems.

With scientists voicing increased concern about climate change, some highly talented people have left other fields to help build the green economy. For instance, Lois Quam, who helped create and run a $30 billion division of UnitedHealth Group, a health insurer, has joined the renewable energy cause, becoming managing director for alternative investments at Piper Jaffray, an investment bank based in Minneapolis. She is setting up investment funds that focus on renewable energy and clean energy.

“The development of a green economy creates a broad new set of opportunities,” Ms. Quam said. “When I first started looking at this area, many people commented on how this will be as big as the Internet. But this is so much bigger than the Internet. The only comparable example we can find is the Industrial Revolution. It will affect every business and every industry.”

Mr. Jones, the head of Green for All, joined the green economy after graduating from Yale Law School. He became executive director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland, using that position to start a program that trains low-income workers in how to weatherize homes and install solar panels.

Mr. Jones calls such jobs green pathways out of poverty. “The green economy needs Ph.D.’s and Ph.-do’s,” he said. “We need people who are highly educated at the theoretical level, and we need people who are highly educated at the level of skilled labor.”

He sees green jobs as providing a career ladder. Some workers might start at $10 an hour inspecting homes for energy-efficient light bulbs. Then they might become $18-an-hour workers installing solar panels and eventually $25-an-hour solar-team managers.

Eventually they might become $40-an-hour electricians or carpenters who do energy-minded renovations.

“Right now we don’t have the infrastructure to train a sufficient number of green-collar workers,” Mr. Jones said.

As the green economy grows, states are vying for green investments — and green jobs.

Pennsylvania has been especially successful, attracting German and Taiwanese companies that are building solar equipment factories, as well as attracting Gamesa, a Spanish wind turbine company. Gamesa has two factories in the state, employing 1,300 workers. Facing pressure from the United Steelworkers, which views the greening of the economy as a way to increase union membership, Gamesa agreed not to fight an organizing drive, and now many workers are unionized.

Pennsylvania’s efforts have been helped by the presence of many skilled manufacturing workers in the state and its commitment to having 18.5 percent of its power come from renewable sources by 2020.

“We have gone after this sector first and foremost because the green of the sector is important, because it is the green that goes into the pocketbooks and wallets of workers,” said Kathleen McGinty, the state’s environmental secretary. “They are good-paying jobs, jobs that often require advanced skills.”

Jim Bauer, 55, is delighted to work for Gamesa. There he leads a team that assembles parts for wind turbines, earning slightly less than he did at United States Steel, which laid him off from his crane operator’s job after 25 years. Now he earns $17 an hour in his job, while many assembly workers earn $13.50 an hour.

“It feels good working for a company that is bringing jobs into the country instead of taking jobs out of the country,” Mr. Bauer said.

He admits to feeling noble doing a green job. “We have to get away from fossil fuels and oil so we can tell the Saudis to take a hike,” he said.


Obama proposes $210 billion for new jobs

Ten year plan focuses on construction, environmental employment


Feb. 13, 2008

Obama's investment would be over 10 years as part of two programs. The larger is $150 billion to create 5 million so-called "green collar" jobs to develop more environmentally friendly energy sources.

Sixty billion would go to a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank to rebuild highways, bridges, airports and other public projects. Obama estimated that could generate nearly 2 million jobs, many of them in the construction industry that's been hit by the housing crisis.


Green-Collar Jobs: The Secret History

Posted by Elisa Murray


02/06/2008 02:45 PM

book called Green-Collar Jobs.

Researched and written by Alan Durning, the book chronicles the changing economic base of rural towns in the Pacific Northwest, from resource extraction industries such as timber to “green-collar” jobs such as sustainable forestry, ecosystem restoration, and tourism. The book was well-received as a landmark study of the post-logging Northwest economy.

Fast forward to 2007.

Sightline staff--like many of you, probably--noticed that the phrase "green-collar jobs" began turning up in the speeches and articles of some pretty big names in politics and business.

One of the first--and most compelling--examples we learned about was Oakland-based leader Van Jones. Jones has been speaking to packed crowds across the country (including Seattle) about the promise of manual-labor jobs in the rapidly growing green sector--jobs such as retrofitting, weatherization, and solar panel installation--to serve as a “pathway out of poverty.” He calls these “green-collar jobs,” and has helped initiate a green jobs program in Oakland.

Due at least partly to Jones' influence, leading presidential candidates began using the term to describe what's become a core piece of their platform:

· Hillary Clinton talks about creating 5 million “green-collar jobs”
· Barack Obama has said
green-collar jobs are central to his energy plan.
· Now-former candidate John Edwards speaks about “One America in the new energy economy with green-collar jobs"
· Mayors and political leaders across the country have championed “green-collar jobs” programs
· Congress passed a $125 million green-collar jobs program in December 2007, with at least 20 percent targeted for pathways out of poverty.
· etc. etc. etc.

By December 2007, media stories mentioning the phrase were turning up--according to my Google alert--at the rate of several stories a day.

We couldn't help but wonder if there was any relation to our little book.

It's rare you get the answer to such questions, but we did. Coincidentally, in December, our executive director heard from a former collaborator, a San Francisco State University Urban Studies professor named Raquel Pinderhughes, who has done several groundbreaking studies on green-collar jobs.

She called to tell Alan that the national platform for the term indeed had roots in our 1999 book, with a jumpstart from her. She began using the term "green-collar jobs” in 2004 and then launched the term in a 2006 article published in "Race, Poverty, and the Environment." In that article, Pinderhughes defined green-collar jobs as "manual-labor jobs in businesses (or other enterprises) whose products and services directly improve environmental quality” and identified 22 economic sectors in which green jobs are located.

“I adopted, revised, and expanded the term in my article because I knew that it would resonate deeply with the public and with policy makers," she told Alan. "The term works beautifully to describe a much wider range of manual labor jobs that are associated with improvements in environmental quality." She was right. The term, which married the concepts of "blue-collar" and "green," began to spread, and eventually took off.

Her December 2007 report on green-collar jobs includes a reference to Sightline’s early use of the term (page 13 in the pdf).

So what does all this mean? First, it's just kinda cool that we played a role in green-collar jobs' new fame.

And second, it's fascinating to see how it's evolved. Our original use of the term “green-collar jobs” had very much to do with the rural Northwest economy of the late 1990s, struggling to redefine its economic base in the wake of timber job losses. The book documented early efforts of innovative northwesterners to make the rural economy greener, from community forestry to retraining workers in ecosystem restoration. (Read an excerpt here.)

The current use of the term--as articulated by Pinderhughes, Jones, Clinton, and others--describes a compelling solution for an urban, post-Katrina world, a world where it's just becoming clear how closely linked environmental and equity issues are. "Green-collar jobs" is a powerful concept that has the potential to cement the connection between environmental issues and kitchen-table issues.

Sightline has long been a big fan of solutions that solve several problems at once, which we call “ripple-effect” solutions. Making progress on poverty and climate change together is the ultimate ripple-effect solution, and one that we hope to support in our own research on climate policy and fairness.

If their promise is realized, green-collar jobs can help solve our most pressing social and urban issues by--as Van Jones says--“connecting the people who most need work with the work that most needs to be done.”

And it's urgent work. The alternative is that the green economy will not only continue to leave people behind, but create an even more divided society. We explored this dark side in our own “green-collar jobs” book. The Northwest has a choice, the book said:

The best-case scenario is a future that blends advanced technology with humane policies . . . making the Northwest a global model of prosperity, prosperity that is shared among all citizens and abides by nature’s limits. The worst-case scenario, equally possible, is a bipolar economy: high-paying, long-hour, relatively green information-age work for those hooked into the global market and low-paying, temporary jobs for those who are not.

That dark side is still a distinct possibility. Here is Van Jones speaking in Seattle this fall:

Are we going to have eco-apartheid? Are we going to settle for that? Are we going to have a society divided between ecological-haves and ecological-have nots? We’ve worked for 200 years to integrate a poison- and pollution-based economy; what can we do to ensure the green economy has a place in it for everybody?

How do we ensure this? It won't happen overnight, as some of the media hype would lead you to believe, but with funding, programs, and commitment we can begin to seize the opportunities. The federal Green Jobs Act of 2007 is a good start. So are the “green jobs” bill that Washington State legislature is considering, and the urban green-jobs programs sprouting up across the country.

Finally, to truly realize the promise of green-collar jobs, we need to craft fair climate policy that helps us pursue our people and climate goals at the same time.

See also:
Green-collar Jobs (Sightline's 1999 book)Van Jones on green-collar jobsWashington State's green jobs billAlan Durning on climate fairnessJanuary 2008 NY Times article on the burgeoning solar industryFebruary 2008 AP story on the promise of green-collar jobs

SUSTAINABLE LIVING - Green-collar jobs

By Shawn Dell Joyce

January 2008

President Bush sees the economy and environment at odds, while many corporations and towns have already proven that what is good for the environment can also be good for the economy.

What if reducing carbon emissions also resulted in more local jobs and a stronger local economy?

Cambridge, Mass., is making just that effort and setting an example for municipalities across the nation. Cambridge joined the Cities for Climate Protection Campaign, sponsored by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives. Cambridge also has signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, sponsored by the City of Seattle and the U.S. Conference of Mayors. These commitments mean Cambridge will reduce its carbon emissions by 20 percent in the next two years, and draw 20 percent of municipal power from renewable sources.

To meet these ambitious goals, a nonprofit, city-sponsored group was formed to create green-collar jobs and increase building efficiency.

The group, the Cambridge Energy Alliance
, connects local business owners with energy-efficiency experts and bankers willing to loan money for these upgrades. The alliance tries to reduce energy use 15 percent to 30 percent in area businesses. The loans it helps secure are low interest and can be paid back by the savings from utility bills.

Retrofitting thousands of old buildings has helped to stimulate a "green-collar" job market in Cambridge. "A green-collar job is in essence a blue-collar job that has been upgraded to address the environmental challenges of our country," says Lucy Blake of the Apollo Alliance of Oakland, Calif., which is working to change the nation's economy from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

Green-collar jobs that are generated by encouraging energy-efficiency would include jobs such as home-energy auditors, insulation installers, weatherization workers, retrofitters for buildings, and solar installers for electricity and solar hot water systems, among other jobs.

According to Van Jones, of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and the Apollo Alliance, green-collar jobs are manual-labor jobs that can't be outsourced.

"You can't take a building you want to weatherize, put it on a ship to China and then have them do it and send it back," said Jones in a recent New York Times interview. "So we are going to have to put people to work in this country - weatherizing millions of buildings, putting up solar panels, constructing wind farms. Those green-collar jobs can provide a pathway out of poverty for someone who has not gone to college."

Picture this: Your child graduates from high school and has the option of going away to college, or enrolling in a local trade school, which now includes green alternatives. Let's say that young Sally, who might have opted for "beautician" as the only viable local career last year, can now choose from a $12 per hour job weatherizing senior housing, with potential to grow to $40 per hour as a certified home-energy auditor. Or perhaps your fledgling will start with $18 per hour rate, working as a solar technician, and work his way up to $50 per hour as a certified solar installer.

"If we can get these youth in on the ground floor of the solar industry now, where they can be installers today, they'll become managers in five years and owners in 10. And then they become inventors," Jones said. "The green economy has the power to deliver new sources of work, wealth and health to low-income people - while honoring the Earth. If you can do that, you just wiped out a whole bunch of problems."

Meanwhile, job training for millions of green-collar jobs has to happen right away. Infrastructure needs to be set up for training and funding has to come from somewhere. Funds could come from a tax on pollution, or revenues could come from a cap-and-auction system where heavy polluters buy pollution rights and that money is used to fund green-job training centers.

Jones's Apollo Alliance helped raise $250,000 from city government to create a union-supported training program that will teach young people in Oakland how to put up solar panels and weatherize buildings. Jones is partnering nationally with other environmental activists like Majora Carter from Sustainable South Bronx for congressional support of $125 million to train 30,000 young people a year in green trades.

"You can make more money if you put down that handgun and pick up a caulk gun," says Jones to our nation's youth.


Ask Congress to support a "carbon tax" and "cap-and-auction" system to make big polluters fund our transition away from fossil fuels. Go to for more information.

Ask your town board to mandate EnergyStar guidelines in the building code, and follow Cambridge's example, setting up an energy alliance. Go to .

Create a national Clean Energy Corps - expanding national service opportunities within AmeriCorps,

Senior Corps and Learn and Serve America - to combat climate change. Go to for more information.

Shawn Dell Joyce is a sustainable artist and writer who lives in a green home in the Mid-Hudson region of New York.

© Copley News Service


Solutions: Green Jobs

An economy that runs on clean energy needs green jobs. As investments catalyze the growth of a new, clean energy economy, we are finally ready to replace the old debate of "jobs vs. the environment" by investing in "jobs for the environment."

Truth be told, workforce shortages have emerged as one of the top barriers to the success of a new energy economy. A 2006 study from the National Renewable Energy Lab [1] (PDF) identified the shortage of skills and training as a leading barrier to renewable energy and energy efficiency growth.

Our country needs a new American Dream -- a green dream that includes everyone in our new vision of justice and prosperity. As we evolve to meet the challenges presented by the climate crisis, we have the opportunity to unite our nation around unprecedented labor mobilization and economic vitality.

We can create 5 million new jobs that will help conserve energy, jumpstart the deployment of new technologies, and contribute to the positive spirit of our ever-expanding movement. The green workforce will help lower barriers to entry for investors, and help revitalize communities that need it the most, resulting in a holistic and equitable transition away from the fossil fuel economy.

For a better understanding of what green jobs can do for your community, check out this video from eco-visionary Van Jones, a climate leader blazing the trail for green pathways out of poverty:

How are we going to make this happen?

There are many ways to go about creating green jobs, and many benefits in the process. Fighting for green jobs means fighting for new jobs, but it also means retooling old jobs to fit the needs of the new economy. Green jobs are American jobs that can't be outsourced overseas on the cheap, keeping our investment dollars in our own backyard. Green jobs are good jobs with opportunities for higher education and unionization, in communities that need that kind of opportunity. The economy needs laborers, but they need them in the right places – from the hills of Appalachia to the streets of the South Bronx. By investing in federally funded green collar jobs programs, we can make a small investment go a long way. We can conserve energy, save taxpayers money, increase employment, and provide new investment opportunities in the booming clean technology sector. Let's make it happen!

Many of our friends and allies have been hard at work proposing new economic solutions that hinge on the creation of green jobs. Here are a few of them:

The Apollo Alliance [2]

The Apollo Alliance advocates a new "Apollo" program to transition the nation to renewable energy. They map out the renewable energy options and, more importantly, project the positive impact such a transition would have in creating jobs and alleviating poverty. The Apollo Alliance is supported by labor unions, environmental organizations, economic and social justice organizations, and businesses.

Green For All [3]

The newly launched Green For All is working nationwide to replicate the success of local and state-level green job training programs. GFA works specifically with at-risk youth in environmental justice communities where economic revitalization is needed the most. Founded by Van Jones from Oakland, and Majora Carter from the South Bronx, Green For All unites communities, building a nationwide movement for eco-equity.

The Corps Network [4]

The Corps Network is a voice for existing service corps throughout the country. They are a prime example of how adapting existing labor infrastructure can help spur growth in new economic sectors, like renewable energy and energy efficiency. Borne out of the CCC of the 30s, the Corps Network is rising to new challenges via their plan for a "Green New Deal."

More on green jobs:

· Union of Concerned Scientists: Clean Energy Blueprint [5]
· American Solar Energy Society: Tens of Millions of New Jobs Worldwide [6] (PDF)
· Internationals Labor Organization on Green Jobs: Climate Change in the World of Work [7]
· Urban Habitat: Green Collar Jobs [8]
· Just Transition Alliance: Climate Justice [9] (PDF)

Green Jobs FAQs

Can we create more green jobs than the fossil fuel industry?

The bottom line here is that a clean energy economy will stabilize our economy and our climate. We will have more jobs, less outsourcing, and less carbon in our atmosphere. Our future will be one that is more just, and more equitable, complete with green pathways out of poverty and truly equal opportunity. As for the job angle, here's a helpful table from the Apollo Alliance's "Community Jobs Report: Renewable Energy Jobs per Megawatt (MW) of Electricity".

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10 Modern Blue-Collar Jobs

By Rachel Zupek, writer

In the old days, there were blue-collar workers and white-collar workers. These days, there are white-, blue-, green-, gold-, pink- and gray-collar workers, too. (Seriously.)

The problem with these classifications is that not only are they based on stereotypes, but for the most part they're inaccurate. Pink-collar workers, for example, supposedly work in jobs that have traditionally been considered female, like hairdressers, nannies and nurses. One can argue, however, that a significant percentage of these jobs are also occupied by men in today's work force. Gray collar allegedly classifies workers who work beyond typical retirement age (an allusion to gray hair?) and gold-collar workers are apparently young, low-wage employees who spend most of their paycheck on luxury items.

While today's labor force is a far cry from the segregated one that existed in the first half of the 20th century, worker classifications still exist. Perhaps the worst typecast group is blue-collar workers, often assumed to have poor education and minimal capabilities. In reality, these physically demanding jobs actually require extensive training and certifications and usually involve work that no one wants to do themselves.

Here are 10 blue-collar jobs that are following the ways of the world as technology, the environment and the population rapidly change. These labor-intensive jobs offer decent (though not the highest) pay and job growth through 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some of them you might not have heard of -- but when you read the job requirements, you'll realize how often you utilize their work.

Landscaping and groundskeeping worker

Many homeowners can't find time to take care of their lawns and also desire to entertain outdoors in an attractive setting. Hence, groundskeeping workers remain vital to our work force. Salary: $10.22/hour; $21,260/year.

Electronic home entertainment equipment installer/repairer

If you tried to lift or install the new 60-inch flat-screen TV you just purchased, you know it's not easy. Plus, such equipment isn't cheap, so buyers are willing to spend the extra money to have it professionally delivered and installed, or to get it fixed when it goes on the fritz. Salary: $14.42/hour; $29,980/year.

Terrazzo worker and finisher

As people become as concerned with image as function, terrazzo finishers will continue applying decorative and attractive finishes to hallways, patios, floors and panels in households around the world. Salary: $15.21/hour; $31,630/year.

Highway maintenance worker

Roads require constant maintenance, conforming to safety standards or repairing damaged roadways. Since cars don't seem like they'll fly any time soon, maintenance workers will be around for a while. Salary: $15.67/hour; $32,600/year.

Security and fire alarm systems installer

Though there was a 2.6 percent decrease in property crime in the first six months of 2007, according to the FBI, robbery, burglary and larceny-theft still pose a threat. To continue fighting crime, security and fire systems installers will work to ensure people feel safe in their homes. Salary: $16.73/hour; $34,810/year.

Computer, automated teller and office machine repairer

Computers and office equipment are vital to the day-to-day activities in both business and home, like the convenience of banking and bill-paying online. These machines always need to be up and running and we need professional repairmen to make sure they are. Salary: $17.54/hour; $36,480/year.

Tile and marble setter

Along with the population, businesses are growing, too. Tile and marble are becoming more popular for use in shopping malls, hospitals, schools and restaurants. These, along with other nontraditional housing materials, are also popular in homes nationwide. Salary: $17.59/hour; $36,590/year.

Heating, air-conditioning and refrigeration mechanic and installer

Environmental concerns continue as both people and companies strive to "go green." For many, this means installing new, energy-saving heating and cooling systems in their homes and offices. Those who already have such machines require them to operate at the highest efficiency, which means professionally maintaining them. Salary: $18.44/hour; $38,360/year.

Structural and reinforcing iron and metal worker

Similar to people, structures get older. As they do, buildings, bridges, power plants and highways need to be rehabbed, repaired, replaced or maintained and these are the people who will do it. Salary: $19.46/hour; $40,480/year.

Subway and streetcar operator

With our ever-growing population and the strong push to improve the environment, public transportation like subways, streetcars and light rails will become more prevalent in the next few years. Salary: $23.55/hour; $48,980/year.

*Salaries and figures based on median annual/hourly earnings, according to the BLS.

Rachel Zupek is a writer and blogger for She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.

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