PA AFL-CIO President Testifies Before Congress on Good Union Jobs for Appalachia

On Wednesday, June 16 Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale testified before the House of Representative’s Subcommittee on the Environment.

The panel, Jumpstarting Main Street: Bringing Jobs & Wealth Back to Forgotten America, “examined the best ways to target federal infrastructure and climate investments to the most disadvantaged communities.  In addition, the Committee focused on economic racial inequality, as Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities and women are experiencing the most severe job losses.”

“In March, the White House proposed to invest more than $2 trillion this decade through President Biden’s American Jobs Plan (AJP).  President Biden has made climate change jobs a top priority, with over half of the proposed AJP investments targeted at solving the climate crisis.”

You can watch the hearing recording here.

Here is a brief excerpt of President Bloomingdale’s remarks:

Over the past year and a half, Pennsylvania has experienced the highest rate of unemployment in any of our lifetimes. We need to understand the importance our infrastructure plays in creating and maintaining good jobs that provide a steady livelihood to hardworking Pennsylvanians. Diversifying our energy workforce through the addition of good, innovative jobs can play a critical role in how we build the future our workers and their families deserve. 

We must be clear — environmental sustainability cannot be economically unsustainable. To combat and reverse climate change, we need to evolve how we produce energy, expand efficiency for usage and conservation, and clean up our atmosphere through carbon capture and sequestration. There is no singular solution, but rather multiple steps we can take to create clean jobs that put working people first.

It is critical we create good jobs in advance of any actions that cause reductions in employment in fossil fuel production and use. Working families and communities want to know, and deserve to know, that doing what is necessary to fight climate change won’t result in unemployment or a reduced standard of living.

The shift to clean energy is a tremendous opportunity to create union jobs. The federal government must lead the way by insisting that public dollars are spent on American-made products. This should include renewable energy goods and clean vehicles, while also ensuring that high labor standards are built into every action and attached to every federal incentive for clean energy. 

We deeply appreciate the President’s call to invest in coal and other fossil-fuel communities to create good jobs in new industries and by cleaning up abandoned mines and wells. We call on Congress to support this order with the funding it requires while doing more to require high labor standards.