While it is important for our nation to move towards a clean energy economy, it is equally important that renewable energy jobs be good, green jobs. Unfortunately, not all green jobs are good jobs. Sixty-two employees of Lacy Enterprises, which leases workers to a GE subsidiary, have filed a racial discrimination lawsuit in Alabama. Their hope for good green jobs quickly turned into a nightmare.
In an article that was posted both on The Huffington Post and the Labor Network for Sustainability, Brendan Smith details this lawsuit and the trials of these employees. The employees worked in the baghouses at coal-fired power plants — a tough job. However, to make the job immensely more difficult, these individuals were subjected to repeated racial slurs, were denied breaks, and had inadequate protection from the chemicals that they worked with.
Their supervisor "resisted giving the crew new face masks because he did not want them to take the time to change them." On one job in Columbia, Ga., the particulates workers' handled "burnt their skin because the Tyvek suits they had on were insufficient to protect their skin from the toxins in the baghouse.” Source: The Huffington Post
I found myself getting frustrated as I read through Smith’s article — frustrated that this is happening today, in 2010. I am also frustrated because events like this could undermine the entire green jobs movement. As Americans, we need to continue to push for a clean energy economy but at the same time we need to demand that these green jobs are good green jobs.
Head on over to Huffington Post to read the entire article, including a copy of the complaint filed in Alabama – GE’s Dirty Green Jobs.