The Maine legislature has just passed legislation to raise the standards for clean energy jobs and advance equity in the renewable energy sector.
“This is a big deal for the Maine workers and the environment,” said Cynthia Phinney, President of the Maine AFL-CIO and a Board member of the Labor Network for Sustainability. “As we move toward a clean energy economy to avert climate instability, it is crucial that we create high quality jobs with living wages, decent benefits, strong labor and workplace safety protections and collective bargaining rights.”
The legislation requires contractors on large renewable energy projects (solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, hydro, etc) to pay prevailing wages, which ensure that workers are paid decent wages and benefits that are customary for each occupation in an industry. The measure also helps working class Mainers access clean energy careers by building out a system for developing and utilizing pre-apprenticeship programs, which prepare workers for direct entry into registered apprenticeship programs and advance equity.
Finally, the measure incentivizes the use of Project Labor Agreements and employee ownership on renewable energy construction projects. The bill directs the Maine Public Utilities Commission to consider these factors when procuring energy under Maine’s Renewable Portfolio Standard.
The bill is the result of deep work over the past few years by a number of unions and the Maine AFL-CIO, and has been a principal focus of the newly formed Maine Labor Climate Council. The legislation was sponsored by IBEW member State Representative Scott Cuddy, who also participated as part of the LNS Just Transition Listening Project interview team in 2020.
You can read Maine AFL-CIO’s statement on the legislation here.