UW News

June 5, 2008

Labor, environmentalists seek good green jobs

As part of its response to climate change and the need to rebuild our stumbling economy, Washington state has set a goal of creating 25,000 “green” jobs. But will they be good, family-supporting jobs? And will we have the trained workforce to fill them?

The Washington State Good, Green Jobs Conference — set for Saturday, June 21, at the UW’s Mary Gates Hall — will address those questions.

Hosted by the Washington Blue-Green Alliance and UW’s Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies, the conference will bring together some 200 union rank-and-file and officials, environmental and low-income advocates, and a host of clean-energy business, workforce training and political leaders for an interactive day-long discussion.

Gov. Chris Gregoire, whose executive order established the green jobs goal, will give the lunchtime keynote address. King County Executive Ron Sims will give an opening address Saturday morning.

An expert-filled morning panel will set the stage for the day’s activities. Panelists will include Thurston-Lewis-Mason Counties Labor Council president Bob Guenther of IBEW Local 77, Puget Sound Energy Vice President for Energy Efficiency Services Cal Shirley, Solid Ground executive director Tony Lee and Climate Solutions economist Jessica Coven. Dave Harrison, who chairs of the Washington State Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board, will moderate.

In the afternoon, participants will break into small-group sessions to discuss how labor and environmentalists can advance their common goals, how to prepare people for green-economy jobs, and how to overcome barriers to those accomplishments.

Other labor leaders involved in the event include Washington State Labor Council president Rick Bender, M.L. King County Labor Council executive secretary Dave Freiboth, United Steelworkers subdistrict director Jim Woodward, SPEEA labor representative Stan Sorscher, Worker Center (AFL-CIO) economic development specialist Patrick Neville and Seattle mayor’s labor liaison Rich Feldman.

Participating environmental or clean-energy organizations include Climate Solutions, NW Energy Coalition and the Sierra Club. In addition to Puget Sound Energy, the state’s largest utility, other sponsoring businesses include McKinstry Co., the region’s largest energy efficiency contractor.

The fee for attendance is $15, which covers lunch. Scholarships are available; no one will be turned away for inability to pay. To register, go to www.coolstatewashington.org/bluegreen.php or call Jessica Eagle at 206-378-0114, ext. 308, for more information.


9 a.m. — Welcomes

  • Jim Gregory, Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies chair
  • Kathleen Ridihalgh, Sierra Club Northwest senior regional representative
  • Dave Freiboth, M.L. King County Labor Council executive secretary

9:20-9:35 a.m. — Address by King County Executive Ron Sims

9:35-9:40 a.m. — McKinstry Co. representative

9:45 — 11:30 a.m. — Panel discussion (brief introductory remarks, questions from moderator, general Q&A) featuring:

  • Bob Guenther, IBEW Local 77 lobbyist and president of the Thurston-Lewis-Mason Counties Labor Council
  • Cal Shirley, Puget Sound Energy Vice President for Energy Efficiency Services
  • Tony Lee, Solid Ground executive director
  • Jessica Coven, Climate Solutions economist
  • Moderator: Dave Harrison, chair of the Washington State Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board

Noon — Lunch provided

12:15 p.m. — Washington State Labor Council President Rick Bender introduces the governor

12:20- 12:50 p.m. — Keynote address by Gov. Chris Gregoire

1-2 p.m. — Concurrent breakout sessions:

  • Track 1 (two groups) focused on defining and furthering the common interests among labor and environmental advocates.
  • Track 2 (two groups) focused on how to prepare people for green-economy jobs, identifying barriers and opportunities, etc.

2:15-3:15 p.m. — Those in Track 1 switch to Track 2, and vice versa

3:15 p.m. — Wrap-up and final comments from “blue” and “green” leaders.