by David West, Puget Sound Sage
Puget Sound Sage’s year-long green jobs campaign reached two milestones today:
- A first-ever class of weatherization installers has completed the Laborers’ Union new weatherization training program located in the Seattle area, a majority of whom were young adults of color; and
- The City of Seattle announced new contractor standards to ensure that new weatherization trainees will find jobs through the City’s low-income weatherization program.
These achievements follow months of research, policy work, coalition and grass-roots organizing of Puget Sound Sage and its green jobs partners, the Laborers (LIUNA), Got Green, Climate Solutions, Sierra Club, Change to Win and Green for All.
The 19 new graduates completed a challenging two-week Laborers Union training program in Kingston, Washington, where they learned general construction skills in addition to core weatherization competencies, such as caulking, insulating and duct sealing. Ten of the graduates are from LIUNA Local 242 and nine were unemployed young adults of color from low-income, urban neighborhoods, recruited by the Got Green project. Got Green is a community-based project led by young men and women of color to raise awareness in their communities about the benefits and opportunities resulting from the emerging green economy.
Michael Mann, Director of the City of Seattle’s Office of Sustainability and Environment, provided details of the City’s new green jobs program, based on a proposal made to the City in July by Sage, Got Green and the Laborers. The City will require contractors in the City’s low-income weatherization program (called Homewise) to hire 75% of new workers from programs serving low-income people and disadvantaged workers. The City has also established a goal of 50% of all hours worked be performed by these new workers. The new hiring requirements will be in place for graduates to begin retrofitting Seattle homes as early as December 1st.
A weatherization contractor recently signed to a union signatory agreement, NW Green, came to the graduation and committed to hire from the group of new graduates. Sage and its allies will now advocate to make the Homewise green job standards a model for all of the City of Seattle’s residential energy efficiency programs and the model for other local governments in the region working on weatherization. Sage’s green jobs coalition has proposed a similar “training utilization” model to the State of Washington’s Department of Commerce, which will be administering the $50 million in low-income weatherization stimulus funds Washington received under the ARRA in 2009.