Solar-powered, union-powered energy on our public schools

Two years of advocacy comes to fruition on the rooftop of Junior High School SA Halsey in Rego Park, Queens, where members of the Climate Works for All Coalition visited IBEW Local 3 members working to install solar panels. This, and 87 other sites, are the culmination of ALIGN’s and its partners’ advocacy with the Mayor’s Office and City Council to ensure that solar installed on public buildings, like schools, prioritize the needs of workers and low-income communities. Initial City plans would have contracted the work out to non-union installer, leasing the roofs and treating the installations like any other public project. Climate Works for All successfully made the case in hearings and meetings with elected officials and city agencies, that these programs were for the public benefit, and therefore should be sited in low-income and energy-burdened neighborhoods and should utilize project labor agreements, ensuring that workers were paid fair wages and safe working conditions.

With a contract between the City and a now-defunct, low-road contractor cancelled, work began in earnest under a project labor agreement between the City and Unity Electric, a union electrical contractor signatory to IBEW local 3. These 88 sites and future installations for public solar are being sited in priority areas identified by Climate Works for All and the City in flood zones, energy-burdened neighborhoods, heat vulnerable communities and other environmental justice neighborhoods. In this video, IBEW Local 3 Business Representative Benjamin Aranja and Unity Electric’s Dave DeMaio share there excitement about these projects.