Press Release: Labor Unions, Advocates, and Electeds Call on Governor Hochul to Include Green Transit and Green Jobs In Upcoming State Budget

Climate and Energy Justice, Disability Justice, Environmental Justice, Health Justice, News

Photo: A person (back to us) stands towards the back of the MTA's Access-A-Ride bus

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 21, 2023

CONTACT: Nydia Gutierrez,
[email protected], (202) 302-7531

Labor Unions, Advocates, and Electeds Call on Governor Hochul to Include Green Transit and Green Jobs In Upcoming State Budget

Statewide Coalition, Labor Unions, and Elected Officials Advocate for Bill that would Reduce Planet-heating Emissions and Strengthen Manufacturing Sector

NEW YORK, NY– With NYS legislators preparing for SFY2024 budget negotiations and current national news highlighting the need for auto manufacturing worker protections, advocates and elected leaders called on Governor Hochul to include the “Green Transit, Green Jobs” (S06089 & A06414) bill in her executive budget. New Yorkers have suffered a deadly deluge of smoke, flooding, andheat this summer, plus manufacturing closures that threaten the livelihood of the sector and its workers. The Green Transit, Green Jobs bill would phase out a major source of harmful health impacts on communities and curb planet-warming emissions by requiring public bus systems to convert to zero-emission buses. It would also bolster the state’s struggling manufacturing sector by providing workers with good, family-sustaining jobs throughout this transition. 

Currently, national news headlines follow the immediate need for auto manufacturing worker protections as United Auto Workers (UAW) brothers and sisters on the picket line are making clear, that the road to clean energy can’t be paved with low-quality jobs. New York can be a leader in a just and fair transition for auto workers and unionized transit agency employees with the Green Transit, Green Job bill– a comprehensive bill that identifies the impact on the existing workforce, as well as, one that encourages manufacturers to compete up with good wages, benefits, and training. 

Last month, seven labor unions representing tens of thousands of New Yorkers, including SMART, IBEW, SEIU Local 246, CWA District 1, IUE-CWA, UAW Region 9, and UAW Region 9A, signed a letter to the Governor encouraging her to include the bill in her Executive Budget. Governor Hochul must include the Green, Transit, Green Jobs bill in her budget to ensure the state uses its power of public dollars to invest in a fair, climate-safe economy, as also emphasized in a recent Buffalo News opinion editorial by United Auto Workers Region 9 and NY Renews coalition.

The Green Transit, Green Jobs bill would require all transit agencies across the state to purchase only zero-emission buses starting in 2029. In addition, it would establish several protections for existing workers during this transition, such as requiring a comprehensive Workforce Development Report to identify the impact of the transition on mechanics and operators, the necessary resources to retrain existing workers, and the development of a plan to train or retrain impacted workers. Several provisions would help ease the transition for smaller transit agencies to ensure that bus riders across the state benefit from the transition to a zero-emissions fleet.

New York’s transportation sector contributes to 28% of emissions state-wide. Electrifying transit buses is a critical component of the state’s Climate Scoping Plan, with the E3 Pathways Analysis calls for 60-70% of all new bus sales to be zero-emissions by 2030. Of the roughly 200 million miles New York’s transit buses travel each year, only .2% are currently powered by electricity. However, transit buses are well-primed for electrification, with zero-emissions buses making up nearly 50% of global bus sales in 2022. In the United States, 5,400 zero-emissions buses were deployed at the end of 2022, representing a 66% increase year-over-year. Eliminating tailpipe emissions would also improve air quality and provide public health benefits for all New Yorkers, especially those who ride, drive, or live near bus routes and depots.

Once a steadfast source of good middle-class jobs, New York’s thriving industrial belt has turned into a rust belt, with less than half its peak of 1.6 million workers currently employed within the manufacturing sector. Passage of the Green Transit, Green Jobs bill would codify the transition of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)’s bus fleet to zero-emissions buses, which could create over 6,100 direct and 21,500 indirect jobs in the bus manufacturing sector alone. The bill would also require the usage of a “best value” contracting framework, where bidders would earn extra credit for proposals with registered apprenticeship programs and job creation for high-need communities and those laid off as a result of the transition away from fossil-fuel buses. By allocating $100 million each year to non-MTA transit agencies, NY State can ease the burden of small transit agencies transitioning to this new technology, ensure their unionized workforce receives the training to safely work on zero-emission buses, and shape this manufacturing sector with their collective purchasing power.

“As we commemorate Zero Emission Day 2023, we are reminded that air pollution caused by releasing harmful gasses into our atmosphere is the biggest contributor to global warming and climate change,” said Assemblymember Jeffery Dinowitz. “Recognizing the climate disaster that awaits us if we don’t act quickly, we in New York State have set a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 and 85% by 2050. My Green Transit, Green Jobs bill with State Senator Tim Kennedy, will help us reach those goals by requiring public transportation systems to transition to zero-emission buses while protecting collective bargaining rights and providing workforce training to move us away from traditional buses to zero-emission buses safely.”

“Our Green Transit, Green Jobs legislation is a critical step in achieving our state’s aggressive climate goals while improving health outcomes and keeping New Yorkers moving,” said Senator Tim Kennedy. “We know that in order to leave a better world for the next generation, the transportation sector must do its part. This proposal will create thousands of jobs and will help to drive New York towards a cleaner, healthier, more economically prosperous future.”

“On this Zero Emission Day, labor and environmental groups stand united: It’s time to invest in a cleaner, greener New York while securing good jobs. By including the Green Transit, Green Jobs Bill in the Governor’s Executive Budget, we can cut emissions, create over 6,000 direct jobs, and protect our workforce. This isn’t just about buses, it’s about building a sustainable future for all New Yorkers,” said Conor Bambrick, Director of Policy for Environmental Advocates NY.

“As UAW members on the picket line have made clear, the transition to green transit should not come at the cost of the workers who will be powering the green economy,” emphasized Ray Jensen, Assistant Director at UAW 9. “By incentivizing unionized manufacturers to compete for public contracts, Green Transit, Green Jobs will ensure that zero-emission bus manufacturing can provide the same path to the middle class as traditional vehicle manufacturing historically has,” 

“As an allied union representing mechanics and machinists that repair and maintain NYC’s 30,000 municipal vehicles, we are also concerned about losing jobs as the state electrifies its public fleet. Green Transit, Green Jobs will ease this transition by creating resources to train current workers to safely work on zero-emission vehicles, said Joe Colangelo, President at SEIU Local 246. “New York has the opportunity to lead the way in fighting the climate crisis while putting workers most affected by it at the center.”

“The Green Transit, Green Jobs bill would be a major step toward making buses and paratransit vehicles greener, cleaner, and safer for riders, workers, and communities alike,” said Suhali Méndez, Legislative and Policy Coordinator at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI).  “It is important that this bill includes benefits for all New Yorkers, including people with disabilities who are too often left behind in the transition to zero-emissions fleets.”

“New York State is in a unique and forward-thinking position to lead the way in reimagining how we address actionable solutions to climate change, environmental justice, and the future of public transit while retaining and creating more family and community-sustaining jobs,” said Jay Mehta, Northeast Director for Jobs to Move America. “On this Zero-Emission Day, as unions and workers across the spectrum strike and bargain to resolve economic inequities and provide a path to to a sustainable future, we encourage Governor Hochul to adopt the Green Transit, Green Jobs legislation into the 2024 executive budget to further her promise and commitment to tackling climate change and encouraging the growth of good jobs, and to further demonstrate New York’s leadership.”

“Our communities rely on public transit and are most impacted by bus tailpipe emissions due to the siting of depots and the routes buses travel. Including the Green Transit, Green Jobs bill in next year’s budget will help Governor Hochul move New York one step closer to Zero-Emissions Day every day,” said Kevin Garcia, the Transportation Planner for the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance. “The Green Transit, Green Jobs bill can push New York beyond the confines of outdated transportation norms, improve air quality, and help us reach our climate targets.” 

“The Bronx has one of the highest asthma rates in the United States, especially among children. We have children missing school and studies because they’re suffering from asthma caused by emissions from dirty diesel buses,” said Jessica Clemente, Chief Executive Officer of We Stay/Nos Quedamos, Inc. “There are a lot of environmental and health-related challenges in our neighborhood, but Governor Hochul can move the equation towards improving our air quality with this measure. Including the Green Transit, Green Jobs bill in next year’s budget is the only proper path forward.”

 

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