Street scene in Reading
Concept means employees have stake in success of companies
By David Mekeel
Oct 27, 2012 – With poverty high in Reading, city officials are willing to try just about anything to create decent-paying jobs.
Friday afternoon, they heard a pitch for an idea that has worked elsewhere and might be just right in Reading.
Seattle-based filmmakers Melissa Young and Mark Dworkin, in town for the Berks Arts Council’s seventh annual Greater Reading Film Festival, were the featured guests at a lunchtime roundtable session focused on employee-owned businesses.
Young and Dworkin have created a documentary on the subject titled, "Shift Change: Putting Democracy to Work," which will be screened during the festival.
The film, and Friday’s discussion, centered around the concept of community-first businesses, in which employees have a real stake in the company.
"If the business does well, they do well," Dworkin said. "There’s an incentive to work hard, not to shirk off."
Employee-owned businesses can take many forms, Dworkin and Young said.
Some have no management structure at all, with decisions being made by consensus. Others have professional management, with an elected board of employees overseeing their decisions.
Continue reading Worker-Owned Businesses Might Be Answer to Unemployment in City of Reading, PA – and Elsewhere
Area Leaders Join Touring Worker Facing Furloughs to Call for Renewal of the Production Tax Credit to Save 37,000 American Jobs, Ensure U.S. Can Compete in Global Clean Energy Industry
By Blue-Green Alliance
PITTSBURGH (September 25, 2012) Local labor and environmental leaders today joined a furloughed worker from wind turbine-maker Gamesa at the Energy Innovation Center in Pittsburgh to call on Congress to support an immediate extension of the Production Tax Credit. The lack of action on the 2.2-cent per kilowatt-hour tax incentive for wind energy — set to expire at the end of the year — was directly blamed by Gamesa for their decision to institute furloughs at two plants in Pennsylvania, including the plant of Ryan Motel, a United Steelworkers Local 2635 member who is currently on furlough.
“My job is at stake, but so are the jobs of many others,” said Motel. “If companies aren’t building wind farms because they’re not sure what their return on their investment will be, they aren’t buying our blades. My message to Congress is simple: end this uncertainty, save my job, and save the jobs of thousands of people like me across the country.”
Gamesa employs approximately 900 workers in the U.S., with 800 of those jobs in the state of Pennsylvania. Earlier this summer, 165 workers at two plants — in Fairless Hills in Bucks County and Ebensberg in Central Pennsylvania — were given notice that they were being furloughed due to lack of demand and the company attributed that directly to lack of certainty on the fate of the Production Tax Credit
Motel will join other workers in the wind industry in Ohio, Virginia and Michigan to call on Congressional leadership to bring the Production Tax Credit up for a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The American Wind Energy Association estimates that the Production Tax Credit will allow the wind industry to grow from the current 75,000 jobs to 500,000 jobs by 2030. Extending the Production Tax Credit through 2016 would increase total wind-supported jobs to 95,000, with total wind investment growing to $16.3 billion. However, without an extension, America stands to lose 37,000 jobs.
Continue reading PA Gamesa Worker on Tour Calling on Congress to Save Clean Energy Jobs
Wind Subsidies Raise a Storm in Heartland States
By Jim Malewitz
SolidarityEconomy.net via PEW’s Stateline
Across the plains of Iowa, Colorado, Oklahoma, Kansas and South Dakota, tall turbines with sleek blades dot once-clear horizons, churning out carbon-free energy to add to the nation’s power grid. The blades seem to wave a greeting, on windy days at least, to whoever drives across those open spaces.
The wind industry’s rapid growth has been cause for excitement among both Republican and Democratic policymakers in the heartland states. They welcome the jobs that come with it. In South Dakota, which has the capacity to generate almost a quarter of its energy from the turbines, “wind is not a partisan issue,” says Hunter Roberts, the state’s energy director.
But it is a controversial issue in Washington these days, threatening to stop the turbine boom before it progresses much further. Fiscal hawks in Congress — those who don’t represent wind states — question whether Congress can still afford to dole out the generous tax credit that has helped fuel the industry’s rise. Wind energy credits are just one of several renewable energy incentives set to expire at year’s end.
Wind-state governors, most of them Republicans, have loudly called for the credit’s renewal, writing letters to Congress and speaking through the media. But with the expiration deadline looming, the governors have grown curiously quiet on the issue. That’s since Mitt Romney voiced his opposition to the subsidy, shortly before releasing an energy plan that is heavy on oil and natural gas investments and light on wind and other renewables.
Continue reading Romney’s Green Energy Job Destruction Plan: Hurting GOP Governors to Hurt Obama
Locked and Dammed: The Region’s 23 Locks and Dams Are on the Brink of Failure
By Len Boselovic
This is the first of a four-part series.
March 18, 2012 – Pittsburgh’s three rivers, an economic engine since Lewis and Clark departed the city for their epic exploration of the West, are flirting with disaster.
The region’s 23 locks and dams, which annually move 33 million tons of coal, petroleum and other commodities that fuel the local economy, are on the brink of failure, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the federal agency charged with maintaining them.
Continue reading Our Infrastructure Emergency Can Be a Source for Green Jobs