The Art of the Green New Deal: Jacobin

The Art of the Green New Deal: Jacobin

Jobs to Move America: A Labor Strategy for the Green Transition

Jobs to Move America (JMA) is a nonprofit organization that is pioneering an innovative labor strategy that turns public investments in green infrastructure and manufacturing into opportunities for union organizing and better working conditions. This strategy is particularly important, given the recent report by Princeton’s Net Zero America study, which lays out what it would take “to achieve an economy-wide target of net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050.”

Expanding and Retrofitting Infrastructure

The study estimates that to achieve this target, the transmission grid would have to expand between two and five times, while industries such as steel would need to retrofit their operations for electric arc furnaces and hydrogen fuel. Additionally, the study recommends building 250 large nuclear reactors and vast utility-scale solar and wind projects, among other things. The scale of industrial construction envisioned here is enormous.

Even if only part of it comes to fruition, it would mean some degree of reshoring and reindustrialization, and the creation of hundreds of thousands of blue-collar jobs. However, there is no guarantee that this return to industry will be a net positive for workers. Construction and manufacturing work is much more precarious than it used to be.

The State Must Play the Key Role

Given the decades of stagnation and unwillingness by the private sector to invest in a green transition, governments will have to drive this process. This is no doubt a frightening prospect, given the government’s outsourcing of key capacities and general commitment to what economist Daniela Gabor has called the “Wall Street Consensus.” But if we have a chance here, the state must play the key role.

The challenges of ensuring a just transition for workers as we reindustrialize and decarbonize the economy are daunting. But innovative organizers are showing us potential paths forward.

JMA’s Successful Labor Strategy

One group that has been at the forefront of reimagining how government procurement can be leveraged to benefit workers is Jobs to Move America (JMA). They’re using state investment in the green transition to raise labor standards and empower workers.

JMA’s primary goal is to add jobs standards to procurement policy so that companies agree to live up to them, thereby putting pressure on parent groups to agree to neutrality and card check unionization. One of JMA’s most recent and significant wins is the unionization of six hundred workers at the New Flyer electric bus manufacturing factory in Anniston, Alabama, which will raise employees’ pay between 25–38 percent by 2026. Three other New Flyer plants also did the same, leading to 1,200 new union members in total.

The Importance of Government Procurement in the Green Transition

When government apparatuses run calls for proposals for state-issued contracts, the rules are typically straightforward, go with the lowest bid, and offer the maximum in tax incentives. Changing these rules is a unique opportunity to improve working and community conditions on a vast scale. Government spending has wide social implications that can create opportunities, but

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