Led by Plug In IE, Inland Empire chosen as key player in Quality Green Jobs Regional Challenge

Plug In IE
March 11, 2024

The Inland Empire Labor Institute (IELI) is pleased to announce that it is one of ten projects nationwide selected by Jobs for the Future and the Ares Charitable Foundation to advance to Phase 2 of the Quality Green Jobs Regional Challenge, an initiative to develop and implement regional quality green job strategies.

Through its workforce development initiative, Plug In IE, IELI will focus on expanding pathways to union careers in energy and water infrastructure and zero-emissions transportation by assembling a planning roundtable of unions, community-based organizations, local governments, educational institutions, and employers.

Across the board, unions raise wages, reduce gender and racial wage gaps, provide workers with better benefits, and improve health and safety. Facilitating access to union apprenticeship programs for people from low-income backgrounds who have previously lacked opportunities for family-sustaining careers will be a critical avenue for the IE to meet the state’s climate adaptation workforce needs while ensuring these jobs are quality green jobs.

“The IE will play a key role in California’s climate adaptation plans, and the Inland Empire Labor Institute and Plug In IE are thrilled to lead this opportunity to expand training for quality green jobs in our region.

Our planning roundtable is ideally positioned to design and execute an equity-driven agenda in response to the pressing climate-related workforce challenges we face.”

—Hillary Jenks

Co-Executive Director, Inland Empire Labor Institute

This opportunity comes at a critical juncture. The Inland Empire region was selected based on its strategic importance and the pressing need to offset the region’s unsustainable economic dependence on the transportation, distribution, and logistics sector (TDL), which accounts for 13% of the workforce in both counties.

According to a report that IELI released last month, The State of Work: Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics in the Inland Empire, the TDL sector primarily offers wages below the region’s living wage, disproportionately affecting Black, Latino, women, and foreign-born individuals.

The report, a collaboration with the Inland Empire Labor and Community Center and Center for Social Innovation at UC Riverside, found that the region is burdened with economic injustice, environmental racism, and occupational segregation perpetuated by the continued focus on the TDL sector as an anchor of regional economic development. The report is available at www.pluginie.org/research.

The disparities detailed in the report reinforce the need to diversify the local economy and invest in ecologically sustainable union jobs, where workers can have access to economic security and dignity. IELI is committed to addressing the need for equitable economic development through apprenticeship programs that equip local residents with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in green industries.

IELI and Plug In IE are grateful to Jobs for the Future and the Ares Charitable Foundation for their generous support and look forward to working with partners across the region to create a more sustainable and prosperous future for the Inland Empire.

About the Inland Empire Labor Institute

Founded in 2020, the Inland Empire Labor Institute is the 501(c)(3) wing of the Inland Empire Labor Council, a regional AFL-CIO affiliate with 290,000 members. We partner with economic, social, and environmental organizations to prioritize the needs of workers in uplifting communities and families, and specifically we see labor unions as a key force for promoting workers’ rights, economic justice, and democratic participation. The Labor Institute supports regional development that is socially equitable, ecologically sustainable, and culturally diverse through a variety of programs and projects, including co-convening the state’s California Jobs First program in the IE and through our project, Plug In IE.

About Plug In IE

A project of the Inland Empire Labor Institute (IELI), Plug In IE was originally developed to lead a High Road Training Partnership in sustainable logistics in partnership with Teamsters Local 1932 and the Warehouse Workers Resource Center, with funding from the California Workforce Development Board. As a recipient of funding from Jobs for the Future through their Quality Green Jobs Regional Challenge, Plug In IE will bring together unions, employers, community organizations, and educational institutions to expand access to quality jobs in fields like energy and water infrastructure and zero emissions transportation, especially for disinvested communities.

About Jobs for the Future and the Ares Charitable Foundation’s Quality Green Jobs Regional Challenge

JFF and the Ares Charitable Foundation are thrilled to announce the 10 regions that will advance to Phase 2 of the challenge and receive $75,000 planning grants. Collectively, these regions are positioned to train and place 25,000 individuals in quality green jobs by 2027.

In Phase 2, the 10 Challenge Members will develop regional Quality Green Jobs Agendas detailing their strategies for training individuals and placing them in quality green jobs. The Quality Green Jobs Regional Challenge celebrates the unique role of regions and regional leaders in fostering solutions at the intersection of climate and workforce development. The challenge will elevate successful, scalable regional strategies and models to accelerate a clean energy transition that drives equitable economic advancement for all.

Photo: Neal Wellons, Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED

Plug In IE

Plug In IE

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