via American Rights at Work:
Gamesa Technology Corp. is setting the example on how private industry can partner with government to harness the vast potential of renewable energy. The wind energy producer is leading the way in creating “green collar” jobs of the future, protecting the environment, and helping to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil.
Hoping to create a new standard for green employment in the United States, Gamesa worked in tandem with Gov. Ed Rendell to launch operations in Pennsylvania in 2005 as a pioneer for domestic green energy production. The company has invested $175 million in the state and now employs roughly 1,200 workers. Its two Pennsylvania facilities produce enough wind turbines to power up to 270,000 households across the United States each year.
Embracing a neutrality agreement and pledging to support its employees’ decision to use the majority sign-up method of union organizing, Gamesa negotiated its first contract with the United Steelworkers (USW) in 2007 and has remained a cooperative partner ever since. “This agreement is a great example of how we can have good jobs and a clean environment,” said USW International President Leo Gerard at the contract signing.
Gamesa’s employees benefit from a strong contract that provides good wages, access to quality health care, and a matched 401(k) retirement plan, among other things. Known for its progressive relationships with European labor unions, Gamesa strives for strong collaboration and open dialogue with its workers. Both union and company officials meet monthly in joint committees at each of Gamesa’s plants to inspect and discuss issues pertaining to safety, health, and the environment.
A prototype model for domestic renewable energy production, Gamesa is working to make it clear to those on Wall Street that companies best for investment are ones where workers have union representation. Gamesa proves that companies can be successful while advancing a socially responsible approach to workers’ rights and our environment.
1200 good-paying, union jobs in Pennsylvania. Two factories that produce enough windmills to provide pollution-free renewable power for 270,000 homes in America every year. And private industry making a nice profit. Sounds like a “win-win-win” solution to our energy problems.
We need to get serious about solving our long-term problems and support, encourage and/or subsidize/fund the projects that make us energy independent. We need more and more American “green” energy and more and more “green collar” American jobs. As long as the wind blows; as sun as the sun shines; as long as the tides ebb and flow; as long as switchgrass grows; as long as the earth’s core heats thermal springs and produces geysers and hotsprings; etc.–we can have clean, renewable, affordable energy. And anyone who says it’s a pipe-dream is full of it.
The John McCain “Drill here, drill now, build nukes” approach to energy doesn’t even address our energy needs in the present and near future, let alone for our kids and grandkids. The oil reserves in Alaska and the Outer Continental Shelf areas aren’t enough in meet even 20% of current demand. Nuke power is expensive, dangerous, and industry demands massive start-up money and disaster protection from Uncle Sam and the taxpayers (hidden in the proposed but fortunately filibustered Lieberman/Warner Climate Change bill was 300 billion dollars worth of subsidies to Big Nuclear) to make it happen. The oil obtained if we “drill here, drill now” won’t let us become energy independent like many believe and it will only bring the price of a gallon a gas down a fews cents per gallon 10-20 years from now. And as oil and coal are finite, non-renewable recources, we’re going to run out eventually anyway. Nukes provide 30 to so years of so-called “cheap” and “clean” energy, but we have to pay to store and guard the highly-toxic waste for tens of thousands of years. Every barrel of oil or shovelful of coal burned brings us one step closer to the end while simultaneously wrecking the planet and negatively effecting the health of humans and our ecosystem. Every spoonful of enriched uranium for nuclear fuel brings us one step closer to another Chernobyl-like meltdown or ecological disaster–the effects of which could last generations. And don’t forget how much clean, fresh water nuke plants need for cooling (intense heat of nuclear fuel boils water into steam which powers turbines which generate electricity), especially in light of the droughts that periodically hit portions of the country and the human body’s need of water to survive. One nuclear power plant in England, Sellafield, uses up to 4 million gallons of water per day for various purposes even though it is no longer producing electricity.
Some say clean energy alternatives are too expensive, but that’s only because nukes and fossil fuels have massive subsidies and hidden costs removed from the consumer price “at the pump”. If you factor in the health costs from air pollution, and the costs in lives and dollars and military hardware (not to mention the damage to morality and conscience) in being “world cop” to the unstable regions of the world with the most oil, it just doesn’t make sense to run an nation or an economy on fossil fuels. As Dubya would say, “The math doesn’t work!”