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CT AFL-CIO Aims for Green Jobs, Climate Change

LEDYARD, CT – Calling for “bold action” to achieve clean energy  economy for green jobs and to fight climate change, the Connecticut AFL-CIO on Friday approved a resolution affirming that “climate change poses a direct threat to the well being of the lives and livelihoods of working people in Connecticut, the United States, and the world.”

The group said it’s hoping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to a scientifically safe level.

By approving this resolution during its annual convention held at the MGM Grand Hotel at Foxwoods, the CT AFL-CIO renewed its support for the CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs, a collaborative effort launched in 2012 with the Inter-religious Eco-Justice Network, organizers said.

The AFL-CIO’s vote comes after President Barack Obama in June called for courage “to act before it’s too late to save the planet.”

He cited signs of a gloomy reality: the 12 warmest years in recorded history have all come in the last 15 years.  Additionally,  temperatures in some areas of the ocean reached record highs in 2012, and ice in the Arctic shrank to its smallest size on record — faster than most models had predicted it would.

“These are facts,” he said. “So the question now is whether we will have the courage to act before it’s too late.  And how we answer will have a profound impact on the world that we leave behind not just to you, but to your children and to your grandchildren.”

In Connecticut and other parts of the Northeast,  states can expect more climate change related heat waves – with significantly more days above 90oF – and flooding from sea level rise and extreme precipitation events.    There is $2.3 trillion of insured coastal property at risk in New York State alone.  Northeasterners are already experiencing increased heavy precipitation.

Recent incidents provide a reminder of the impacts to our public health and costs due to extreme weather in Connecticut.  Although we cannot say that climate change is responsible for any individual event, climate change is already increasing our risks from these events, according to reports.

Ø  Tropical Storm Irene ravaged the East Coast in 2011, requiring over $16 million in federal assistance for Connecticut.

Ø  The US Department of Agriculture declared four counties as natural disaster areas after above normal temperatures in February-April 2010 affected maple sap production, resulting in losses for hundreds of farmers.

Ø   In 2010, there were 1964 cases of Lyme disease in the state.

Jeremy Brecher, CT-based historian and staff member of the national organization Labor Network for Sustainability, praised the CT AFL-CIO’s action:  “As the latest science paints a devastating picture of the impact of global climate change, and as Connecticut suffers serial devastation from climate-change related extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy, organized labor here in our state is taking a crucial stand for climate protection.  Too often, labor and its allies have been divided by the false opposition between jobs and the environment.  With the Connecticut AFL-CIO’s resolution on climate change, labor is recognizing that converting Connecticut to a climate-safe economy can be a crucial way to fix our jobs crisis as well as our climate crisis.”

Also, by providing opportunities for constituencies that have often disagreed on environmental issues to engage in dialogue, identify areas of common ground and embrace their diversity as a source of power, the Roundtable has played a constructive role in helping to shape the state’s energy policy, he said.

Organizers said that the roundtable on climate and jobs helps to strengthen the collaboration among Connecticut’s labor leaders, community organizations, environmentalists, and religious communities in advocating for state policies that are environmentally sustainable and produce good-paying jobs.

John Harrity, Director of GrowJobsCT and President of the CT State Council of Machinists, which introduced the resolution, expressed his satisfaction with the Convention’s action: “Here in Connecticut, we have a great vision for a sustainable, renewable energy future, creating jobs while improving our environment and facing the challenge of climate change. With this resolution, the state’s labor movement has affirmed our commitment to continue providing leadership to the Roundtable on Climate and Jobs.”


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Colleges to Offer Free Green Jobs Program

CBIA Teams Up With Community Colleges to Offer Free Training Programs to Prepare Workers for New Careers in Fast-Growing Green Industries

HARTFORD — The Connecticut Business & Industry Association (CBIA), in conjunction with three Connecticut community colleges, is offering free training programs to help workers expand their skills and knowledge and prepare them for new careers in one of the fastest-growing green industries— solar photovoltaics (PV). The program is available free of charge to eligible participants under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) federal grant.

During the month of September, six 44–hour solar PV training programs will be offered to TANF-eligible individuals. The courses will be held at Gateway Community College in North Haven, Middlesex Community College in Middletown, and Naugatuck Valley Community College in Waterbury.

“Over the past several years, concerns about the environment and effective use of resources have led to an explosion of green processes, products, and services,” says Judith K. Resnick, CBIA’s director of workforce development and training and the executive director of CBIA’s Education Foundation. “As more investments are made in sustainable, green industries, we must have a workforce equipped with the skills to compete and succeed in this fast-growing field,” says Resnick. “This program is one step toward meeting that need.”

Eligible individuals can participate in an entry-level course and/or a technical sales program. The solar PV entry level program is designed for entry level workers or individuals working in the electrical or construction trades who would like to become solar PV installation assistants. The solar PV technical sales course is aimed at individuals with strong math and communication skills who would like to enhance their current skills or begin new careers as technical salespeople.

The program is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) TANF Emergency Contingency Fund and administered through the State of Connecticut Department of Social Services. Matching funds are provided by the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund.

To be eligible for this free training, participants must have dependent children and meet TANF income eligibility and U.S. citizenship requirements. For complete eligibility guidelines, course descriptions, dates and locations, or to download application and registration materials, visit www.cbia.com/edf. A mandatory math assessment for interested students will be held the week of Aug. 23, 2010, at participating colleges. For more information, contact Deb Presbie, CBIA project consultant, at 860-244-1932 or email deb.presbie@cbia.com.

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Mayor Praises School District’s Focus on Science

HARTFORD — There’s a special connection between the month when Sir Isaac Newton’s birthday is celebrated and the year Hartford kicks-off its 375th Anniversary:  paying homage to history and looking ahead to a promising future that includes science.

In addition, today six Hartford Public High Schools were presented the Sir Isaac Newton Science Award— plaques complete with a symbolic apple— for their high science test scores and for their national recognition for overall academic achievement.

Staff and students from Capital Prep, Classical Magnet, Hartford Magnet Middle, Pathways to Technology, Sport and Medical Sciences Academy, and University High school of Science and Engineering were recognized. At the gathering some shared science projects and dreams of careers in math and technology fields.

Mayor Eddie A. Perez, who also serves on Hartford’s Board of Education, reemphasized a City priority— education and commended students for their achievements.

Research shows that in 10 years the biggest job growth areas will be in health, green technology and construction, and computer and scientific industries and urban communities will supply 30 percent of the State’s future workforce, according to the city’s press release.

That is why it is “essential that our students are prepared to contribute to the scientific discoveries of tomorrow,” Perez said.

Matt Fleury, President and CEO of the Connecticut Science Center on behalf of the staff also praised the achievements of Hartford students, saying “Yours are the bright minds and the shining faces of the future of our community.”

Abul Islam, President and CEO of AI Engineers, who is building an engineering firm on Constitution Plaza and creating “Science Row” on Columbus Boulevard also shared praises for the city and its people. He said many in Hartford have “helped set the City on the course of choosing the right road to take into the future,” and urged others to build on success that already exist.

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Better Days Ahead?

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Is economic relief in sight for working-class people?

Only time will tell.

President Barack Obama signed three executive orders that would “reverse many of the policies towards organized labor that we’ve seen these last eight years.”

The orders he signed would require federal contractors to offer jobs to current workers when contracts change and would make it more difficult for federal contractors to discourage union activities.

The Obama administration, through vice president Joe Biden, also plans “to bring together those Cabinet members who have the greatest impact on the well-being of the middle class.”

The task force meeting scheduled for Feb. 27 in Philadelphia, will look at issues as diverse as health care and college opportunities  and will focus on “restoring the balance in the workplace,” Biden said.

The focus of the first meeting will be “green jobs, those jobs that pay well, can’t be outsourced and will help us move toward a cleaner, more self-sufficient energy future,” Biden  said.

In addition, more  monthly meetings will be held across the country to discuss concerns of working-class people like child care, workplace safety and retirement security, Biden said.

–Ann-Marie Adams

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Colleges Garner “Green Jobs” Grant

HARTFORD — The U.S. Department of Labor has awarded a $2 million grant to the state’s 12 community colleges to help train students for “green jobs.”

The state joins a nation-wide effort in the quest to prepare a workforce with the skills needed to enter careers in growing fields of employment.

The fund will go toward educational programs in automotive technology, clean water and energy efficient operations and renewable and alternative energy.

The core curriculum will modify existing college courses to build basic academic and technical skills within sustainable operations, according to community college officials. Occupational specialty courses will be adapted or developed by individual colleges with input from business leaders.

“Preparing students to enter Connecticut’s Knowledge Economy with the education and skills needed to succeed is a primary focus,” said Marc Herzog, chancellor of the Connecticut Community College System.

Courses will be modified or developed with input from business leaders, and a sustainable operations certificate program will be offered.

The program will also offer tuition assistance.

–Charmaine Hall

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