The Green Jobs Promise: Hype or Hope?

I decided to do some research in the green jobs situation.  More specifically, I had recently heard a claim that we are training people to do jobs that don’t even exist.  Not willing to accept such an assertion at face value, I went looking for the truth.  I also wanted to take a look at green jobs in general.  Are they putting people to work?

I’d like to begin in Milwaukee where in January of 2010 the city received $1,075,000 in green job training money from the Department of Labor.  The grant was named The Pathways Out of Poverty and was targeted for those communities which have poverty rates of 15% or higher.  Later in December the city was given another $600,000 for the Milwaukee Area Workforce Funding Alliance.  As of April 2011, the unemployment rate in Milwaukee had dropped to 10.1% for a gain of $18,000 jobs.  However,  I could not find any statistics that correlated the increase in jobs to the green job training which I thought was a bit suspicious actually.  It seems to me that if these jobs were a direct result of the money spent from the grant there would be a lot of crowing about it.

Next, we travel to Philadelphia which was awarded a $3.2 million dollar grant specifically for The Community College of Philadelphia to train unemployed workers, ex-offenders and veterans.  The unemployment rate in July of 2010 was 9.1%.  The unemployment rate in July of 2011 was 8.9% for a net change of -.2%.  In other words, it’s statistically even, no change.  I did find an article in the The Inquirer out of Philadelphia which stated that in the city, one out of two people (aged 20 to 29) were out of work.  Additionally, those numbers bled over to those who have college degrees.   Not really the results we would like to see as taxpayers.

We have peeked at middle America and back East, now it is time to take a look at the West.  In 2010, Seattle received $20 Million dollars to invest in weatherization.  The announcement was made at the White House by Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and Vice President Joe Biden with much flourish.  The goal was to create 2,000 jobs in Seattle while retrofitting 2,000 homes in the most poverty-stricken areas.  Unfortunately, as of August 2011, only 3 (three) homes have been retrofitted and a meager 14 new jobs have been added.  Of the 14 new jobs, most are administrative and not entry-level as promised.  “The jobs haven’t surfaced yet,” said Michael Woo, director of Got Green, a Seattle community organizing group focused on the environment and social justice.  “It’s been a very slow and tedious process. It’s almost painful, the number of meetings people have gone to. Those are the people who got jobs. There’s been no real investment for the broader public.”

Howard Greenwich, the policy director of Puget Sound Sage, an economic-justice group said, “Really, we couldn’t have rolled out this program at a worse time,” said Greenwich, who had helped write the city’s grant proposal. “The outcomes are very disappointing.”  As a taxpayer, that’s putting it mildly.  I would love to know where my money is.  Greenwich went on to say the energy retrofit market has turned out to be extremely complicated, with required hammering out of job standards, hiring practices, wages and how best to measure energy benefits.  In other words, no one did the research before funding the program.  This is becoming a recurrent theme with this administration.

I’m sure that you are now asking yourself where did the money go?  I had to dig for this information.  Verum Serum had a terrific article about where the money went.  Wait until you see where the bulk of the money went:

This is only a portion of the $500M total allocated by the stimulus bill for such purposes. Back in November an initial $55 million in grants were released, the bulk of which went to state-run job training programs, with relatively small amounts going to community job training programs.

However, the primary recipients of the latest $100M in grants are a little more noteworthy:

  • UAW Labor Employment and Training Corporation – $3,200,000
  • 1199SEIU Family of Funds (disguised as “HCAP, Inc.”) – $4,637,551
  • Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA), AFL­CIO – $4,993,922
  • International Transportation Learning Center (whose board consists almost exclusively of union leaders) – $5,000,000
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the National Electrical Contractors Association  – $5,000,000
  • Institute for Career Development (aka United Steelworkers) – $4,658,983
  • Blue Green Alliance (whose members consist largely of unions) – $5,000,000
  • Communications Workers of America – $3,969,056
  • Thomas Shortman Training Scholarship and Safety Fund (SEIU) – $2,802,269

Our Tax dollars went to unions.  Coincidentally (or not) the biggest fiscal supporters of Obama happen to be unions.  If you are trying to put unemployed people to work, the last place you want to put money is in the union coffers.  Union jobs are handed out by seniority and favoritism.  If you are a “newbie” you won’t be getting any jobs but will be drinking lots of stale coffee in the union halls hoping for the best.  Additionally, union scale wages are so disproportionately high it’s why so many vehicles are made out of country.  If you want to know why so many manufacturing jobs left the United States, take a look at the wages, the health care benefits and the bonuses of union shops and it will become abundantly clear.

Hype or Hope was my initial question.  There is considerably more hype than hope in these green jobs and in the training.  It is another Potemkin Village, a slick-looking veneer behind which there is no substance and certainly no jobs.  Frankly, there is not enough paint, cover-up or spin to make it look successful.  Just look around your neighborhood, see the businesses closing and the foreclosures rising.   All this green job nonsense is nothing more than smoke and mirrors.

Read more: 


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Green News: Red states, green jobs « EcoUtopia

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: