Labor group representing 150,000 essential workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic will continue advocating for good union jobs in just transition to clean energy economy
CHICAGO – The SEIU Illinois State Council, representing 150,000 janitors, healthcare workers, public employees and more across the state, today announced it will join the Climate Jobs Illinois Coalition to advocate for an ambitious clean energy transition built by union labor. The progressive labor council is the latest of many to endorse the coalition’s mission, which will create good union jobs in the clean energy sector to lower the state’s high unemployment rate, reduce emissions and help close the growing income inequality gap in disadvantaged communities.
“Essential workers are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, but many return home after their shifts to neighborhoods with heavy pollution that negatively impact the health of their families,” said SEIU Illinois State Council President Tom Balanoff. “Working people are ready to fight for a clean energy economy that will reduce emissions and provide a path to the middle class with good union jobs.”
“Essential workers of color disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic also face the greatest impact of the climate crisis,” said SEIU Illinois State Council Vice President Greg Kelley. “This coalition will be fundamental to ensuring our children and future generations can thrive with a clean environment.”
“We have a rare opportunity to reimagine our economy and create a cleaner, fairer future for all working people in our state. Having the SEIU State Council in the Climate Jobs Illinois’ coalition gets us closer to achieving this goal as Springfield considers new energy legislation,” said Nikki Budzinski, executive director of Climate Jobs Illinois.
With 600,000 jobs lost during the COVID-19 crisis thus far, Climate Jobs Illinois is working to create new jobs which create more pathways to the middle class, especially for communities disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change. In the coming weeks, the coalition will release a series of proposals focused on drastically reducing emissions and that create or sustain union jobs in areas hit hard by the current economic crisis as well as by historic underfunding and discriminatory policies.
Climate Jobs Illinois—which is independent of energy developers and utilities—will put forward innovative proposals that support state renewable portfolio standards, the creation of new investments in wind and solar projects, improving fleet efficiency and enhancing public transit infrastructure and improving energy efficiency in public, commercial and residential spaces. The plans will leverage Illinois’ clean energy natural resources, strong labor pool, ready-made apprentice programs and manufacturing infrastructure.
The SEIU Illinois State Council joins a growing coalition of labor groups and allies, and the initiative already has bipartisan support from across the state, including U.S. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04), State Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Morris), State Sen. Dave Koehler (D-Peoria), State Rep. Marcus Evans Jr. (D-Chicago) and more.