The Huffington Post (11/22, Terkel) reports, “Billionaire Warren Buffett rebutted claims that the Obama administration is unjustly hurting business orders with high taxes by saying that in fact, the wealthy have never had it so good.” On ABC’s “This Week,” Buffet said, “I think that people at the high end, people like myself, should be paying a lot more in taxes. We have it better than we’ve ever had it.”

In the U.S. manufacturing jobs have slipped to level not seen since before 1945. From 2000 to 2009, manufacturing in the U.S. shed upwards of 7 million jobs. It's no wonder that politicians all over the country are hoping that the promise of the new clean energy economy will result in a restoration of a strong manufacturing base in the U.S.

Of course, it’s not that easy. In the solar industry, where the potential for millions manufacturing jobs exist, much of the “heavy lifting” is being done in Asia, according to Robert Lahey, a VP at Ardour Capital. He said that for many clean energy technologies the US’s competitive advantage might be forever lost to China.

“A lot of the companies, especially in solar and wind, have closed the quality gap,” he said.

Lahey pointed out that a number of the large PV manufacturers, even those that have opened U.S. facilities, are still doing the silicon, wafer, ingot and cell manufacturing in China, and it is in those areas that jobs proliferate. In addition, with less red tape and more efficient policies that allow manufacturers to access the capital they need to set up facilities and lower labor costs, China will be a formidable force well into the future, he said.

Other industry experts are not sure why there is so much pressure on the industry to create manufacturing jobs. Carrie Cullen Hitt is Executive Director of The Solar Alliance, an organization that works with companies and legislators to create strong solar policies.

“All this pressure is being put on solar to create manufacturing jobs and it’s just misplaced,” she said. “Manufacturing is fine, but there are so many other jobs in other aspects of the industry. It’s a misperception that you’re going to get the most amount of jobs out of encouraging manufacturing,” she said.

Hitt thinks good policy is the key to creating jobs. But she doesn’t think it should be all about manufacturing. “There are development jobs, installation, financing, the whole value chain…If you have a good solar policy all those aspects of development will create jobs in a state,” she said.

A Failure of U.S. Policy

Schott Solar is one company that has recently opened a manufacturing plant in Albuquerque NM. The plant employs 300 people directly right now and could eventually expand to 1,500 in the future “with the correct policy and support,” according to Jim Stein, VP of Government Affairs at the company.

Stein said the fall of domestic manufacturing is a major area of concern. “The green industry can’t just be about services and installations,” he said in a presentation on Enabling and Sustaining Green Jobs for the Expanding Solar Market at Solar Power International (SPI) in October.

Stein pointed to 5 key policy elements that he said are missing right now. The first is robust, consistent financing mechanisms for manufacturers. Five years ago, the U.S. supplied 42% of the PV industry, today it is less than 10%. We need to get some of that base back to the U.S. to create jobs, he said. In addition, the industry needs market access, which includes fair trade policies for international trade and grid access for the end-user; a trained workforce the uses certifications and standards to ensure quality installations; strong policy framework that includes an RPS; and active government commitment to the industry.

Ardour Capital’s Lahey thinks policy could be tweaked to spur more job growth in manufacturing. He points out that the $2.3 billion that was set aside for manufacturing tax credits (MTC) in the ARRA program ended up going to the larger manufacturers that could afford to expand anyway. “It’s the kind of program that really should favor the entrepreneurs, the thin-film solar guys in the U.S. looking to build their first commercial facility, 100 MW or something like that,” he said, and those types of entrepreneurs typically don’t have enough revenue at the start to take advantage of a tax credit. As a result, the MTC didn't spawn the type of manufacturing expansion that it was intended to.

The wind industry, too, has long since touted its economic and manufacturing benefits. Turbine equipment is cumbersome and heavy, making it difficult and expensive to transport. As the industry grows, the need for domestic manufacturing grows with it.

According to a report from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), entitled, “Winds of Change, A Manufacturing Blueprint for the Wind Industry,” from 2005 to 2009 as annual installations of wind power quadrupled, domestic content in turbines reached 50%. The reports points out that during the same time period, manufacturing jobs increased from 2500 to 18,500 and there are 14,000 more in the pipeline “but these and further jobs will only come online with policies dedicated to regrowing our manufacturing sector,” according to the report.

AWEA believes that only with long-term policy support such as an RPS, strong manufacturers incentives, a price on carbon and an extension of the 1603 cash grant in lieu of tax credit will the wind manufacturing industry continue to add jobs at the rate it has been.

Are Manufacturing Jobs Forever Gone?

If you examine the chart above, it’s clear that manufacturing losses have been happening in the U.S. for a long time, much longer than clean energy has even been recognized as an industry that could create jobs.

Andrea Luecke of The Solar Foundation whose organization released The National Solar Jobs Census report in October states that, contrary to what people are hearing, manufacturing in the solar industry is in fact increasing at 36%, making it one of the fastest growing sectors of the solar industry in general. “Right now manufacturing has about 25,000 solar workers and in the next 12 months with the 36% increase there will be an additional 9000 solar workers in the manufacturing sector,” she said.

Further, there are still many places where clean energy manufacturing in the U.S. makes good economic sense. Ardour Capital’s Lahey sees the many burgeoning clean energy industries as excellent sectors in which U.S. manufacturing will grow. “In most cases these are the first commercial facilities on the market,” he said. For 2011, look for opportunities for growth in the manufacture of “smart grid [components], advanced batteries, 2nd and 3rd generation biofuels and even fuel cells,” he said.

And don’t forget about the U.S. as an end-market. The solar and geothermal markets are expected to show phenomenal growth in installations in 2011, as may offshore wind, biofuels and others. In industries where there is still a lot of R&D taking place, domestic manufacturing is necessary. And with wind power, where components are heavy and expensive to ship, it makes sense to manufacture as close to where the product will be installed as possible.

If the U.S. offshore wind market continues to develop in 2011 as it is predicted to, expect to see more announcements like the one Mass Tank made in October.

In partnership with the EEW Group of Germany, Mass Tank said that it would establish the first facility in the country for the manufacture of the offshore wind power components. The new line of production for Mass Tank, a longtime manufacturer of steel storage tanks, will result in the creation of more than 100 jobs, and that number could grow to more than 350 jobs, should Massachusetts become a major supplier to offshore wind installations up and down the Atlantic Coast.

Make no mistake, there are great minds focused on how to restore the U.S. manufacturing base in order to put more Americans back to work. As it also did in the 1980’s when manufacturing was also experiencing a low point, MIT recently launched an initiative that will focus on U.S. manufacturing as way of putting America back to work. According to an article in the Boston Globe, “in Germany, another high wage nation, manufacturing accounts for nearly one-fifth of economic output, compared with about one-tenth in the United States.”

By Jennifer Runyon, Managing Editor - Renewable Energy News
November 1, 2010

Reprinted from BCTD online

Union electricians, members of Local 110 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, are among 2,000 volunteers participating in Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity’s push to build or rehabilitate dozens of houses in Minneapolis and St. Paul this week.

Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity is one of four Habitat chapters nationwide hosting events in coordination with the 2010 Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project. The former president arrived in St. Paul for a Habitat fundraiser Wednesday and helped paint a house on St. Paul’s East Side on Thursday.

More than 50 members of St. Paul-based Local 110 are handling all electrical work on 10 Habitat homes this week, according to Vicki Sandberg, a spokesperson for the union. IBEW members also are handling project management and permitting services.

Over a span of four months ending in November, Sandberg said, union members “will have wired 10 new and rehabbed homes and provided upgrade and safety inspections to 11 more. In all hundreds of volunteer hours will be provided by IBEW electricians and contractors in support of Twin Cities Habitat and our community.”

On Monday afternoon, a crew of seven Local 110 members wired a Habitat home on York Avenue on the East Side. Ya Landa Kinchelow purchased the home and, after work on it is complete, will move in with her sons Taylor, 15, and Dale, 12.

Habitat has become a favorite avenue for the union’s community-service initiatives in recent years.

For each Habitat for Humanity home Local 110 members volunteer to wire, the union adds a sticker to its equipment trailer.

Michael Moore edits The Union Advocate, the official publication of the St. Paul Regional Labor Federation. Learn more at

The Secretary of Transportation has started a new web experience honoring the men and women who are doing the heavy lifting to renew America's transportation infrastructure. With our interactive map, viewers can see all of the "Voices of the Recovery Act" videos from our YouTube channel on a single screen.

Each of these videos features a worker whose job was saved or created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. In their own words, they talk about their Recovery Act projects and how they've built or repaired infrastructure, and how their projects jump-started economic activity in their communities.

From John Tracey in Maine to Alison Barber in Colorado to Bill Montgomery in California, tens of thousands of workers have put Recovery Act dollars to good use on more than 14,600 highway, road, transit, bridge, airport, and small shipyard projects nationwide.

Thanks to the Recovery Act, these good people, who would have been unemployed otherwise, are at work today on more than 13,900 needed projects currently underway. And in our video series you can hear them share what that has meant to them in tough economic times for the construction industry.

Visit our online map, click on an orange cone, and listen as these workers tell their stories.

And, if you have a story to tell about how a Recovery Act transportation project has helped you find or keep a job, upload your video to YouTube and email us a link at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. "> This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

You could be our next orange cone!


As reported at on October 16: The solar array at the Minneapolis Convention Center now has 403 of its 2,613 solar panels installed.

The Minneapolis Convention Center's solar array will be the Upper Midwest's largest solar photovoltaic system, connected directly to the convention center's internal electrical system and producing 750,000 kWh of renewable energy per year.

This system will produce the equivalent of powering 85 homes annually, while offsetting 539 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions (the amount given off by 60,587 gallons of gasoline). Solar energy is clean, renewable and - once the capital costs are paid - free.

"The Convention Center is Minneapolis' living room, where we welcome thousands of guests a year," said Mayor R.T. Rybak. "Now the first message these guests will get is that Minneapolis is a leader in the clean-energy economy."

Mayor Rybak pointed out multiple significant clean-energy and sustainable projects recently completed or in the works, including the new LEED Public Works building, the Target Center green roof, Homegrown Minneapolis and several other solar-powered City buildings. Mayor Rybak added, "Another tenet of sustainability is using local partners and local labor, and we welcome the contributions of Westwood Professional Services and IBEW Local 292."

Read the whole story at

Good jobs with good benefits and the need to energize voters for Election Day were key themes for both union leaders and members at the “One Nation” rally in Washington Saturday.

The demonstration was organized by more than 300 groups, ranging from the AFL-CIO and individual unions to civil rights, women’s rights, anti-war and community groups. Participants came from as far away as San Diego.

Organizers sought to motivate progressives for the stretch drive for the election and as a warning to politicians that workers and their allies, not the Radical Right, represent the majority in the country.

Some 10,000 members of the Communications Workers, a similar number from AFSCME, at least 25,000 Service Employees, 1,000 Utility Workers, thousands more Steelworkers, 25,000 Teachers, and hundreds of Auto Workers, Transport Workers, National Nurses United and NEA members made up a large share of the crowd of several hundred thousand people stretching from the Lincoln Memorial down the Mall.

Jobs was a consistent theme of every speaker, on the platform and in the crowd. So was politics. So was denunciation of big business and its influence.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said strengthening workers’ rights, specifically by enacting the Employee Free Choice Act, is the way to combat corporate clout. Trumka brought a dozen union workers to the microphones to make the case, too.

 Article by Mark Gruenberg, Press Associates, Inc. Reprinted from WorkdayMinnesota

As the 50th Constitutional Convention of the Minnesota AFL-CIO came to a close, the 500+ convention delegates unanimously re-elected President Shar Knutson and Secretary-Treasurer Steve Hunter to lead the state labor federation for the next four years.

“This is a critical time for middle class families and I look forward to continue serving working men and women as we build a better future for everyone in our state,” said Knutson, who became the Minnesota AFL-CIO’s first woman president in a special election last year.

Prior to her service as president, Knutson served as President of the Saint Paul Regional Labor Federation for ten years, and previously served as the Regional Federation’s political director. Before working for St. Paul area unions, Shar worked in St. Paul City Government and was a Policy Analyst and Assistant to Jim Schiebel when he was the Mayor of Saint Paul. She specialized in labor, health, and immigration issues.

Hunter, who was first elected Secretary-Treasurer in 2001, said the labor movement has much work ahead in the next four years.

“The policies of the last 10 years have bankrupt our state and made the American dream harder to achieve for working people. We will stand up for leaders who share our values and priorities and will work with them to bring prosperity back to all Minnesotan families.

Prior to his position with the AFL-CIO, Hunter served as the political action director in Minnesota for the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. Hunter graduated from the University of Minnesota and has served on numerous governing boards, including the Resource Center for the Americas, Transit for Livable Communities, Twin City Area Labor Management Council, American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, and the Community Solutions Fund.

The Minnesota AFL-CIO is labor federation made up of more than 1,000 affiliate unions, representing over 300,000 working men and women throughout the state.

You work hard to keep this country running. You make a difference in your community. And you're passionate about the outdoors and passing on our hunting and fishing heritage to the next generation. That makes you a star in our book, so the Union Sportsmen's Alliance wants you on Brotherhood Outdoors.

The new outdoor TV series, which will begin airing on Sportsman Channel in July 2011, will portray two kinds of adventure. In some episodes, host Tom Ackerman will take guests on an outfitted hunting or fishing trip in North America, often with a union member-owned outfitting operation. In others, the tables will be turned as union guests play the guide, taking Tom to their secret hunting spot or honey-hole.

So whether you want to take a break from the do-it-yourself routine and join Tom for a guided hunting or fishing adventure or show your union brothers and sisters and the rest of America that you've got the skill and experience to be the guide, get your application in today and be a star on Brotherhood Outdoors!

For more information and registration details, download an application.

A message from the IBEW.

Four U.S. construction unions, the Operating Engineers, Teamsters, Laborers and the Plumbers and Pipefitters, signed a Project Labor Agreement on Sept. 14 with a large Canadian energy company, to build a big trans-national oil pipeline from the oil sands of Alberta to the refineries of Texas’ Gulf Coast.

If approved by U.S. agencies and Democratic President Barack Obama, the $12 billion Keystone XL Pipeline, a project of TransCanada Corp., would employ more than 15,000 union construction workers from 2011-2013, officials at the signing ceremony said. The PLA would ensure a labor code and help set pay levels for the project.

The pipeline would also create at least 250,000 permanent jobs in 100-1,000 pumping stations, plus other spin-offs, along the way. And it would cut U.S. dependence on oil imported from sometimes-unfriendly nations, company and union leaders added.

The Canadian section of the pipeline is already complete enough, after several years of construction, that thousands of barrels of Canadian oil started flowing daily in July from Alberta to the Wood River refinery near Joliet, Ill., in the Chicago suburbs, and to a transshipment point in Oklahoma.

The PLA will cover the rest of the 36” pipeline’s route stretching through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska and Oklahoma to the refineries in Texas. It will carry 1.1 million barrels of oil daily -- equal to half of daily U.S. oil imports from either the Middle East or Venezuela -- and could expand to carry 1.5 million barrels. Its 1,900 miles and carrying capacity will both dwarf the famous Trans-Alaska pipeline.

Besides an estimated 250,000 permanent jobs after the pipeline is done, the project will “add more than $100 billion in annual total expenditures to the U.S. economy,” TransCanada said in announcing the signing ceremony, which took place at the AFL-CIO’s Building Trades Department.

TransCanada also estimated pipeline construction “will generate more than $585 million in state and local taxes along the route and stimulate more than $20 billion in new spending for the U.S. economy.” A contractor alliance that works with unions also signed the PLA.

Union leaders at the signing emphasized the well-paying construction jobs the new pipeline would bring, at a time when joblessness among construction workers nationwide is close to 20% and when it is up to 30% for union construction workers. But they also said the pipeline is important because Canada is our reliable northern ally, unlike other oil producers.

“You hear every day that we gotta get less dependent on Middle East oil. This is the way to do it,” said Plumbers President William Hite. “If we don’t do this, they’ll take the oil to Vancouver, ship it to India or China for refining, and they’ll ship the refined products back to us at double the price.”

“This project will put 4,200 Operators to work,” said Operating Engineers President Vincent Giblin, referring to his union’s contingent among the pipeline construction workers. “It couldn’t come at a better time.”

“We’re talking about 15,000 union members with good-paying living wage jobs, with health and welfare benefits -- and at the end of this several hundred thousand permanent jobs,” added Laborers Vice President Terry Healy.

“We’re very excited about getting this going. We too have a lot of members sitting on the bench -- and a lot who depend on oil,” said Teamsters Vice President Mike Manley.

Giblin also praised TransCanada for building the pipeline to and through the U.S., and with union labor, adding “all of us realize there were other alternatives they could have chosen.” TransCanada CEO Russ Girling said the firm signed the PLA because of the past excellent track record it has had with U.S. construction unions and their allied contractors, in terms of getting projects done on time, safely and on budget.

Girling said pipelines are the safest and most environmentally responsible ways to ship oil, and contended his firm in particular goes the extra mile to ensure that. “That was the first question my board asked me” when they approved the PLA, he added.

The pipeline project still faces regulatory and political hurdles in the U.S., though not legislative ones. The State Department has initial oversight in such cases and approved the pipeline through an environmental assessment. But 11 other agencies must sign off on the pipeline, even before it reaches Obama’s desk.

Environmentalists may be tougher, Girling warned. “The Canadian oil sands have already been a lightning rod for everything bad” about oil. “Keystone XL has become that, too,” he explained.

The unionists responded they would lobby the agencies and Obama for approval of the pipeline. The pipeline does not need U.S. legislation, they added. “We will do whatever we have to do to get this done,” the Laborers’ Healy said.

“But the marketplace has already said they want the oil: We have signed 20-year contracts for 910,000 barrels per day” headed for Texas, out of the pipeline’s 1.1-million-barrel daily rate, Girling said

By Mark Gruenberg, PAI Staff Writer

PRESS ASSOCIATES UNION NEWS SERVICENews, Graphics And Commentary For The Nation's Unions, Their Media And Their Members2605 P Street NWSecond FloorWashington DC 20007PH: 202-898-4825 e-m: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. "> This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

One solution to the nation’s unemployment crisis is the creation of clean energy jobs, but to achieve that goal everyone must be involved in the effort, participants in a Congressional forum agreed.

Congressman Keith Ellison, who represents Minnesota’s 5th District, hosted the forum Sept. 8 at the South Education Center in Richfield. A large crowd listened and engaged in discussion with the panelists, who described local clean energy efforts and their connection to work at the federal level.

All agreed the potential for the growth of clean energy businesses and jobs is huge.

“One of the places we can get the biggest bang for the buck is retrofitting houses to make them more energy efficient,” said John Dybvig, economic development manager for the Blue Green Alliance, a union-environmental coalition advocating for a green economy.

The grid for delivering electricity needs to be upgraded and demand already has grown immensely for energy products like wind turbines, solar panels and geothermal systems. “We’re behind a number of countries as far as manufacturing output for a lot of these products,” Dybvig noted.

Bill Mackey, recording secretary for IBEW Local 110 in St. Paul, has first-hand experience with the growth of clean energy jobs, having been involved in the three largest solar panel installations in Minnesota. He currently works for Hunt Electric to promote business development in renewable energy.

“I put my union brothers and sisters back to work every time I win a bid,” he said. But Mackey and the other panelists said not enough is being done to promote clean energy business development – and the benefits are not yet being shared equally among all Minnesotans.

Addressing climate change

In addition to creating jobs, clean energy is essential to slow climate change and protect the planet, said J. Drake Hamilton, science and policy director for Fresh Energy, a nonprofit organization leading the transition to a clean, efficient and fair energy system.

For the last 25 years, the temperature of the planet has been higher than average, leading to changes that have posed threats to plants and animals all over the globe.

“A state like Minnesota is right in the crossroads of global warming” because of its location, she said. “We’re going to see the changes first and we have a lot at stake.”

At the same time, Minnesota can be a leader because of its tradition of concern for people and the environment, Hamilton said. For example, Minnesota has a law requiring 25% of the electricity produced by the state’s utilities to come from renewables by 2025.

Minnesotans need to push a national agenda for clean energy and passage of bills such as the American POWER Act to create American jobs and achieve energy security, while reducing carbon pollution, she said.

Making changes won’t be easy because it will mean letting go of some older, highly polluting technologies, said Gerardo Ruiz, CEO of Solarflow Energy, a Minneapolis company providing solar photovoltaic services to homes and businesses

Consumers can play a role by making energy-conscious choices, he said. “A clean economy, a green economy, is about responsible energy.”

Who’s at the table?

As a new economy is developed, no one must be left behind, the panelists agreed. Featured speaker was Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, CEO of Green for All, a national organization working to build an inclusive green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty.

People of color, low-income workers and other under-represented communities must be part of the discussion and need to benefit from the solutions, she said. Ellis-Lamkins recalled her childhood growing up in an area of northern California where the only available work was at refineries that spewed pollution into the neighborhoods. But people were grateful to have a decent-paying job, she said.

As a labor leader in California and now as head of Green for All, Ellis-Lamkins has worked to promote both good jobs and a clean environment.

“We as a community have to say, ‘We deserve better choices,’” she said.

To make the transition, the environmental movement must reach out and “be a more diverse movement,” Ellis-Lamkins urged. “If you want to win, you have to have more than the people who agree with you.”

A recurring theme of the panel was that Americans can’t wait for the people in Washington, D.C., to take the lead.

“This movement for a clean, green economy will not be led by politicians,” Congressman Ellison said in applauding everyone who attended the forum. “It will be led by you.

For more information, visit the following websites:

Blue Green Alliance

IBEW Local 110

Fresh Energy

Solarflow Energy

Green for All

Congressman Keith Ellison

This article is reprinted from a story by By Barb Kucera, Workday Minnesota editor, on 13 September 2010.

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