The groups will press mayoral candidates to back programs for high-paying, clean tech jobs.
A coalition of environmental and labor groups will pressure 2009 mayoral candidates to back programs which will create “green collar” jobs with high wages.The groups Tuesday kicked off what will be a nine-month campaign to create a coordinated, citywide eco-friendly job development strategy by next spring and to pressure the candidates to support the plan.
Experts say environmental initiatives will create thousands of jobs in areas like building retrofits, energy efficient maintenance, recycling and brownfield remediation. The coalition believes those positions can help bolster the city’s middle class if they pay decent wages.
Mayoral hopefuls will be asked about their green job platforms at candidate forums and support for living-wage green jobs could be a precondition for endorsement. Likely candidates include Comptroller William Thompson, Council Speaker Christine Quinn, U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner and supermarket mogul John Catsimatidis.
“What we expect of mayoral candidates is a commitment to continue to invest in our future,” said Joanne Derwin, executive director of Urban Agenda, which helped to organize a meeting this morning of business, environmental, labor and government leaders to discuss the role green jobs can play in lifting the city’s economy. “What are they going to do to create good green collar jobs?”
The effort to meld environmental sustainability and workforce development is being spearheaded by Urban Agenda, the Central Labor Council and the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance. They have yet to develop specific proposals.
Much work needs to be done before candidates’ feet can be held to the fire. Two of the city’s most high profile projects—congestion pricing and bus cameras— have been dealt political defeats.
And the city is lagging behind other areas, says Kathryn Wylde, chief executive of the Partnership for New York City. “I’m here as a surrogate for an industry that doesn’t exist,” she told the meeting at the New York City District Council of Carpenters.
Ms. Wylde said that in the first two quarters of 2007, $1.7 billion in venture capital dollars went to green projects across the country. California got $700 million and New York got only $28 million. New York also trailed Massachusetts and Texas.