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Landmark Bill to Improve Quality of Renewable Energy Jobs Sent to Governor's Desk

Andy O’Brien
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The Maine AFL-CIO applaud Tuesday’s final enactment through the Maine Senate and the Maine House of the most substantive policy advancement to improve the quality of renewable energy jobs in Maine history. LD 1969, sponsored by Rep. Scott Cuddy, would raise the standards for clean energy jobs and advance equity in the renewable energy sector.

“This is a big deal for the Maine workers and the environment,” said Cynthia Phinney, President of the Maine AFL-CIO. “As we move toward a clean energy economy to avert climate instability, it is crucial that we create high quality jobs with living wages, decent benefits, strong labor and workplace safety protections and collective bargaining rights.”

“This bill will improve workplace standards and opportunities for all workers in our fast-growing renewable energy economy,” said Francis Eanes, Executive Director of the Maine Labor Climate Council. “LD 1969 puts working people first, and shows us that we don’t have to choose between meeting our state’s ambitious climate goals and reversing 50 years of wage stagnation and rising inequality.”

LD 1969 requires contractors on large renewable energy projects (solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, hydro, etc) to pay prevailing wages, which ensure that workers are paid decent wages and benefits that are customary for each occupation in an industry. The measure also helps working class Mainers access clean energy careers by building out a system for developing and utilizing pre-apprenticeship programs, which prepare workers for direct entry into registered apprenticeship programs and advance equity.

Finally, the measure incentivizes the use of Projects Labor Agreements and employee ownership on renewable energy construction projects. The bill directs the Maine Public Utilities Commission to consider these factors when procuring energy under Maine’s Renewable Portfolio Standard.

LD 1969 passed the Maine House 81 - 59 on a party line vote on April 13. It passed the Senate 21-13 on a party line vote on Tuesday. The bill now heads to the Governor’s desk. The Governor’s office was involved in negotiating the final amendment to the bill with the sponsor, the Maine AFL-CIO and other stakeholders. LD 1969 is expected to become law.