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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery
National Clean Energy Summit 2.0 — Jobs and the New Economy
Las Vegas, Nevada
Monday, August 10, 2009

Investments in clean energy and our nation's workforce are critical to our economic recovery and energy security.

Our workers are our nation's most valuable asset. But we are facing hard economic times unseen since the Great Depression. The unemployment rate is staggeringly high at 9.4%, and 14 million people are out of work. So it is critical that as we invest in clean energy jobs, we ensure they are good jobs for everyone.

As a Member of Congress I authored the Green Jobs Act. And as Secretary of Labor I am not only implementing it, but a wide range of worker health, safety and training programs.

It means investments in the manufacturing sector so we are exporting products — not paychecks. It means encouraging and, sometimes demanding, innovative partnerships. It means fair wages, retirement security and affordable health care.

This is what I am working toward at the Department of Labor.

With Senator Reid's and Senator Cantwell's leadership, the Recovery Act included $500 million for training in green collar jobs, like wind, biofuels, solar panels and lithium batteries. This money will support the 21st century training needs of workers and employers to be competitive with our global partners. This includes the transition of auto and auto-related workers to clean energy and energy efficiency jobs. Supportive services will be integrated with education and training - so programs are accessible by everyone, regardless of socio-economic status and educational attainment.

Diverse partnerships are required. This means large and small businesses, community-based groups, apprenticeship programs and educational institutions. All of these groups must be at the table together. Most importantly, these training programs should lead participants to better paying jobs with stable career pathways.

That is why I have partnered with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to link one stop career centers with public housing authorities. By reminding public housing of their obligations to hire locally, we can bring tenants together with job training programs through the Department of Labor.

That is also why I have partnered with the Department of Energy and the Department of Education to link capital investments with educational opportunities and employment for dislocated workers. This includes careers such as those in weatherization and energy auditing.

And that is why I support clean energy legislation. With clean energy legislation we can ensure that our investments today are the foundation of a clean energy economy lasting well beyond the Recovery Act and into the next decade.

Since February, I have traveled to 21 states, 39 cities and 3 countries meeting with workers, employers, labor unions, and community based organizations.

I have toured the coal mines with miners in West Virginia.

I have met with women in Memphis manufacturing solar panels.

I spoke with youth in Arkansas learning manufacturing skills.

I toured lithium battery facilities in Michigan.

I spoke with Tribal Governors in Albuquerque.

And I have visited with returning veterans in San Antonio.

I have seen first hand the differences they make in their communities. And I know there is a place for all of them in a clean energy economy. A place for them in safe, secure and good jobs.

That is the commitment I have brought to the Department of Labor. And that is the commitment I ask of all of you today.

By working together, we can make sure that clean energy jobs are not just jobs — but green career pathways for vulnerable populations and sustainable employment for the middle class.

 

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