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June 30, 2005

Must Solar Be Anti-Union?

California is debating a Schwarzenegger-backed bill to subsidize solar panels on homes and businesses across the state-- on a level that could supply energy equivalent to 10 average-sized coal-fired power plants.

Sounds good, but in a classic move to pit labor and environmental interests, the GOP cosponsors, as this article details, oppose a requirement that public money only go to installers paying prevailing union wages in the state.

Labor in California has fought a long struggle to require that, if government pays for it, the labor has to meet union wage levels.

Now, the GOP wants to open a multi-billion dollar loophole in the rule: somehow the hipness of solar panels makes using public money for sweatshop labor acceptable.

This is a perfect chance for environmentalists to stand up for the principle that green policy can also be a pro-labor policy, but few environmental leaders have stepped up to champion prevailing wages for the workers who would actually install all these solar panels across the state.

And the enviros wonder why some labor unions joined the GOP in supporting drilling in ANWR when they promised that all those jobs would pay union wages. It's kind of pathetic that George W. Bush and the GOP is more willing to support union jobs in their energy policy than the lefty solar power lobby.

Posted by Nathan at June 30, 2005 08:45 AM