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Legislative Alert: March 24, 2023

New York State AFL-CIO
24 Mar, 2023
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President's Message

Cap and Invest has Great Potential

Cap and invest proposals to charge employers economy-wide for their greenhouse gas emissions to raise funds for renewable energy projects and reduce emissions have great potential to help meet the state’s emissions reduction goals and to create meaningful, union jobs. Two versions have been released and both have some very positive aspects but a final agreement must include worker protections and labor standards as well as allowances for energy-intensive, trade-exposed industries (EITE). 

Current cap and invest proposals have the potential to raise several billion dollars per year  but not every facility in the state should be charged at the same rate and some need zero cost allowances to avoid any fees. This is because certain manufacturing facilities in New York are not able to operate with current clean energy technology and the increased cost from cap and invest will force relocation or closure.  

Collectively these facilities employ thousands of union-represented workers across the state and all too often the closure of even a small facility can devastate a local community’s job and tax base. Those that can relocate would just continue operations elsewhere, including their emissions, which would create no net new benefit for the environment. We instead must identify and protect those employers with incentives to transition to cleaner energy where possible and create a zero-cost allowance for EITEs. Those same employers should also be eligible for funds raised by cap and invest to upgrade and modernize operations with clean energy to make that happen. 

Just as important as protecting the state’s manufacturing sector, we need to make sure that any funds generated by cap and invest will be spent using the highest labor standards when developing new clean energy systems. This includes prevailing rate and PLAs on construction, Buy American and labor standards for supply chain, manufacturing of component parts of new energy systems as well as labor peace and prevailing rate for permanent operations and maintenance of new systems and facilities.

Some cap and invest funds should be set aside every year for worker training programs in the clean energy sector and other assistance such as a bridge to retirement or help with COBRA payments for workers who will not benefit from retraining programs. Communities that lose tax base funding and families that cannot afford utility costs that may rise as a result of these policies should also receive assistance. We must ensure that a just transition occurs for anyone impacted by the state’s CLCPA goals and cap and invest has the potential to do that.

Mario Cilento, President

Upcoming Meeting

Monday, March 27, 2023, 1:00 p.m. 
NYS Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon will be the guest speaker.