Danish wind developer Orsted, which is building the South Fork wind farm project, signed a project labor agreement in May that ensures union workers will build wind farms slated for the East Coast.
Orsted struck a deal with the North America’s Building Trades Unions representing 3 million people in the building trades to construct the company’s U.S. offshore wind farms with an American union workforce.
“Our recent experience in the last two decades with onshore wind and solar has been that the majority of those projects are not built with us,” NABTU Secretary-Treasurer Brent Booker said. “So this is groundbreaking in setting the standard for an emerging industry here.”
The Biden administration wants to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030, generating enough electricity to power more than 10 million homes.
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said the administration is committed to creating “union jobs in America in this clean energy economy.”
Allison Ziogas, Orsted’s U.S. labor relations manager, said one of the reasons they sought the agreement with NABTU was to assure workers, particularly in the fossil fuel industry, that they can have good-paying jobs in offshore wind.
“There is not the same level or quality of jobs with the solar industry, so it’s kind of created a false narrative that you can have good jobs or a healthy climate but not both,” she said. “And we really recognized that if we didn’t have everyone on board, we knew how things would wind up. It would wind up in gridlock.”
-With Associated Press