This article was reprinted from the San Francisco Chronicle.
My labor union supports Proposition 23 for one simple reason: It will protect the jobs of millions of hard-working California men and women.
Prop. 23 will temporarily suspend some very expensive, job-killing regulations under the state’s global warming law, AB32 – regulations that even folks advocating immediate implementation of those rules admit will cost jobs. Ironically, those same folks go out of their way to avoid talking about global warming, which the law is about in the first place. Why? Because they know that California acting alone can’t reduce global warming but that voters care about jobs. So they’re bending over backward to try to make voters believe – inaccurately – that the global warming law was a jobs bill all along.
A jobs bill for where – China? India? Certainly not for California. The facts should send every working Californian running to vote "yes" on 23.
A committee advising the California Air Resources Board has recommended a new cap-and-trade tax that could exceed $143 billion, much of it earmarked for worker transition-assistance programs to help people who will lose their jobs as a result of AB32. A UC Berkeley study found that more than 3 million jobs in sectors subject to the new global warming regulations would be affected: "These sectors (have) a high concentration of well-paying blue-collar union jobs … disproportionately filled by men, Latinos and workers with lower than average years of education. …The sheer numbers of jobs in this group dwarfs the number of jobs in new green businesses." The study observes that job training of incumbent workers must be addressed.
The Berkeley folks intensely dislike anyone citing their study as a cautionary tale about the impact of the global warming law on jobs because they support immediate implementation and apparently think those green jobs will come along eventually. We respectfully disagree.
If you or a family member is among the 3 million workers relying on the wages and benefits of those at-risk jobs, you should be very nervous. Incidentally, that Berkeley study reported that green jobs account for less than 1 percent of California jobs.
California’s working men and women are understandably scared. While the new "green" industries that opponents tout might headquarter in California to take advantage of AB32’s subsidies and artificially created markets, they’ll mostly build their plants and create their manufacturing jobs in places where labor is cheaper, taxes are lower and environmental regulations more realistic. The New Green Economy model is likely to feature solar panels, wind turbines and electric cars stamped "Made in China," because our global warming law will make it too expensive to build those things where they want to sell them.
The math doesn’t lie. Green jobs account for only about 1 percent of California jobs and the Air Resources Board itself projects a net increase of only 10,000 more from AB32. Green jobs won’t come close to replacing the jobs AB32 will cost us.
The UCLA Anderson Forecast’s author summed it up nicely: "Much-hyped green jobs are unlikely to give a big lift to California’s employment numbers. … ‘As we look at the hype around ‘green is going to drive the economy,’ the fact is, not really.’ "
A brand new UCLA study found that union jobs are disappearing faster in California than anywhere else in the country.
Piling on billions in job-killing energy cost increases at a time we can least afford it won’t help that dismal situation improve.
We need to do something about global warming. But we don’t need to kick California workers while they’re down to do it. With more than 2.2 million Californians out of work, we can’t afford AB32’s excessive costs, at least not now. That’s why our union is joined by the California State Firefighters’ Association, the Boilermakers’ union and the Los Angeles Police Protective League in supporting Prop. 23.
Prop. 23 will protect jobs and benefits and save California families billions of dollars in higher energy cost. California’s working families deserve nothing less.