The debate over measures to fix America’s broken labor laws took a back seat during the long debate on health care. Now that the focus has shifted to efforts to stimulate economic growth and job creation, it’s time to put workers’ rights front and center.
President Edwin D. Hill of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers today called President Barack Obama’s announcement of loan guarantees by the U.S. Department of Energy for the construction of two advanced reactors at the Plant Vogtle nuclear power station in Georgia as a major step forward in addressing the United States’ energy needs as well as creating badly needed jobs. The announcement took place while the President visited a skills training facility in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., jointly administered by IBEW Local 26 and local electrical contractors.
This is a great day because we’re here to celebrate an important step in the road to true recovery. The loan guarantee for construction of a nuclear plant in Georgia is a prime example of what needs to be done to address the jobs crisis in our nation. The public and private sectors must work together. The jobs must go to people in the local areas so that their wages can be pumped back into the local community. And the fact that the project will help address our critical need for clean, reliable, safe energy is a major plus for the state of Georgia and by extension the entire country.
Hill noted that the green light for the Plant Vogtle project as well as other nuclear facilities in the planning stages will have a ripple effect of job creation not only for construction, but also in the manufacturing of parts for these plants as well as skilled personnel needed to run them.
The kind of jobs we need in America – good jobs that require a high level of skill and pay a decent wage and offer benefits like health insurance – are in short supply. This project and more like it will spell the difference between an America that continues to be a beacon of opportunity and a land that falls back in the pack among the economic powers of the world.
In addition to its members in the electrical construction industry, the IBEW represents workers who manufacture parts used in nuclear reactors as well as those in the utility industry, including some 15,000 workers at nuclear power plants in the United States and Canada. Among the utilities employing IBEW members is the Southern Company, which owns the Plant Vogtle power station.
Leading Republicans say that the administration’s $787 billion stimulus plan passed a year ago failed. They claim that tax breaks for business would be more effective than government priming the economic pump in a new stimulus plan—passed by the House of Representatives in December—headed for the U.S. Senate.
Throughout the 2008 election season, we were told that the green-energy economy would put our economy back on the road to recovery by creating tens of thousands of new jobs in wind, solar and other non-polluting energy sectors.