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Unions’ Partnership With Oregon’s Cool Schools Means Green Schools and Jobs

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Image: Mike HallThe labor movement, the union-owned financial services company Ullico and the state of Oregon are partnering in a $15 million “Cool Schools” initiative that includes repairs, rebuilding and energy retrofits.  Says AFT President Randi Weingarten:

We’re gratified that in working together, we can ensure that our children have access to facilities which help them reach their potential.

The partnership of government, unions and businesses will work with to identify appropriate investments in Oregon public schools and infrastructure of up to $15 million.

Already the Cool Schools initiative—launched by Gov. John Kitzhaber (D)—has:

  • Performed state-of-the-art audits of nearly 400 schools
  • Negotiated with 12 school districts on up to $11 million in low-cost energy retrofit financing
  • Made commitments to lend $4.7 million to eight school districts, improving 28 individual schools.

The investment will create an estimated 225 building trades jobs in Oregon, and will support projects in schools located in communities statewide. Says AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department (BCTD) President Mark Ayers:

These types of investments are invaluable to the members of the building trades who are truly grateful for the opportunity to return to work and help strengthen the communities in which they work and live.

Unions’ participation in Cool Schools is part of a broad commitment to action made by unions and investors through the Clinton Global Initiative earlier this year. The first step will involve providing financing for energy retrofits through labor-affiliated financial institutions. Construction of these retrofits will create thousands of good jobs, develop new industries in the United States, enhance the nation’s global competitiveness and reduce the threat of climate change.

This blog originally appeared in AFL-CIO Now Blog on November 14, 2011. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Mike Hall is a former West Virginia newspaper reporter, staff writer for the United Mine Workers Journal and managing editor of the Seafarers Log. He came to the AFL-CIO in 1989 and has written for several federation publications, focusing on legislation and politics, especially grassroots mobilization and workplace safety. He carried union cards from the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers, American Flint Glass Workers and Teamsters for jobs in a chemical plant, a mining equipment manufacturing plant and a warehouse. He’s also worked as roadie for a small-time country-rock band, sold blood plasma, and played an occasional game of poker to help pay the rent. You may have seen him at one of several hundred Grateful Dead shows. He was the one with longhair and the tie-dye. Still has the shirts, lost the hair.

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