Washington Interfaith Network Helps Bring Major Green Jobs Program to DC

by Community Change | May 20, 2015 4:39 pm

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Donna De La Cruz, Center for Community Change, [email protected], 202-339-9331
Amy Vruno, Washington Interfaith Network, [email protected], 202-744-2302

Agreement With DC Water, DC Government, EPA Results in Hundreds of Good Jobs
Program Described as National Model for Rest of Country

(WASHINGTON)— The Washington Interfaith Network (WIN) joined D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, D.C. Water CEO and General Manager George S. Hawkins, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency today at Fort Reno Park to announce a major agreement that will bring hundreds of good, green jobs to the District of Columbia and serve as a model for the entire nation.

The D.C. Water Board recently voted affirmatively on a community benefits agreement for a modified consent decree that will allow one of the proposed gray storm tunnels to be replaced with $90 million in green infrastructure. As a result of WIN’s work with Mayor Bowser and D.C. Water, the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) includes environmental standards alongside an agreement to bring jobs to local residents.

The MOA includes:

  • 250+ additional jobs, including 100 estimated permanent maintenance jobs (these figures are in addition to the more than 3,000 jobs created by a strictly gray approach);
  • 51% local hiring on all green infrastructure work and requirements to hire workers from DC Water green infrastructure certification program;
  • Mentoring and internship programs for DC residents;
  • Green infrastructure job training and local worker recruitment and placement program for DC residents with the initial funding commitment from DC Water at least $1.25 million;
  • Creation of a national model green infrastructure worker certification program and a centralized worker certification and hiring creating opportunity for centralized organizing, wages and benefits, and contractor monitoring.

As a minister at Covenant Baptist Church in Ward 8, Rev. Wilkins, a member of WIN’s strategy team, said “people in my neighborhood cannot breathe because they are deprived of oxygen and opportunity. Today’s announcement means hope for the residents of the city’s poorest communities.”

Steve Savner, Director of Public Policy at the Center for Community Change, a partner of WIN, said today’s announcement is a victory of regional and national significance.

A strong labor-community alliance is organizing and winning to make sure that new work is created, the new jobs are good union jobs, and to make sure the poorest communities in D.C. including returning citizens unlock the opportunities in this emerging industry. If we continue to organize and win, we will have a national impact on this new industry,” Savner said. “This program should be used as a model for other cities nationwide.”

Rev. Wilkins noted the historical significance of this announcement and the impact these types of jobs programs can have on the communities in greatest need.

“Our nation faced a moment like today during the depths of the Great Depression. The environmental catastrophe of the Dust Bowl and deforestation led President Franklin Roosevelt to call upon unemployed young men from the highest poverty communities of this nation to take up work in the Civilian Conservation Corp,” Rev. Wilkins said. “They found work and meaning building our national parks, improving agricultural practices and planting trees.  It is through this work a generation of environmentalists were molded.  Let’s stand together again – heal our people with meaningful, union wage work healing our earth.”

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