My partner Dennis Westlind recently posted this article to our sister blog, the Labor & Employment Group’s World of Work:
Labor unions are seeing a rare growth opportunity in green power. Despite the recession, there has been a building boom in green energy, in particular solar and wind projects. As reported recently in the New York Times, labor unions see something in green energy for them as well, and they’re using intense political pressure to get it.
When a new solar or wind project is being built, a union will approach the builder and demand that it use only union labor on the project. If the builder agrees, the union then urges local regulators to quickly approve the project; if the builder refuses, however, the union then raises myriad environmental concerns with regulators in an attempt to stall or even completely derail the project. Apparently, a union-built solar installation won’t have the same impact on the habitat of the short-nosed kangaroo rat or the ferruginous hawk as a non-union one. Right.
These tactics aren’t new; labor unions have made aggressive use of the environmental laws for years to put pressure on traditional energy producers to use union labor. But, with union membership in an overall decline, unions are desperate to maintain relevance in the growing green economy.