Shuler: NABTU/Ørsted Partnership Will Change the Game, and the Future

Washington, DC

President Liz Shuler delivered the following remarks as prepared at the signing ceremony for the unprecedented PLA between NABTU and offshore wind company Ørsted:

Hello, everyone. I’m Liz Shuler, President of the AFL-CIO. What an incredible occasion to welcome you all here to the House of Labor for! It’s an honor to have this historic ceremony take place here at the AFL-CIO.

We’re here for the signing of the Project Labor Agreement between NABTU and Ørsted—the culmination of years of hard work on a game-changing partnership that will change the trajectory of the entire offshore wind industry.

At the heart of it, is a commitment—to build infrastructure that will reduce carbon emissions AND create high road, high wage union jobs that will change people’s lives. It’s also a model for the entire renewable industry—for solar and other emerging technologies to follow—one where labor standards and environmental performance go hand in hand—where we make the goal of green jobs being union jobs REAL—and where we build a future that’s better to live and work in.

Coming out of the IBEW, I grew up in the electric utility industry. I’ve worked with the people who generate the electricity in all its forms—who transmit and distribute it across the country. My father was a power lineman and so electrons are in my blood. As we’ve seen the industry evolve and change, we know what the future holds. And that’s the opportunity for family sustaining jobs for generations to come. If we are intentional about our choices.

And that’s why you see our Administration officials here like Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Director Amanda Lefton, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy.

Because the commitment is there from the top, that the clean energy future will be union made.

Sean McGarvey and Brent Booker saw the potential. We knew that if Ørsted had a commitment to fairness and union values in Denmark, we could work with our union counterparts overseas to make sure that model translated to the United States. We met with Ørsted’s senior management in Denmark nearly three years ago, started laying the groundwork and through a lot of patient and hard work specifically with Brent Booker and David Hardy, Troy Patton and Allison Ziogas, the work has come to fruition. Congratulations to all of you for this milestone achievement.

You took a leap of faith—and thanks to that shared commitment to a better future, we are here today announcing that all of Ørsted’s projects to install wind turbines up and down the East Coast will create good union jobs. The National Offshore Wind Agreement is a first-of-its-kind agreement that has been authorized by 14 International Union Presidents (many of whom are in the room with us today) and their local affiliates.

And this partnership really is a meeting of equals. This PLA pairs the most sustainable company in the world with the most skilled workers in the world. This is how we create a clean energy future that’s built to last.

NABTU and its employer partners are the second largest provider of training in the country behind the US military. Our registered apprenticeships are the gold standard. And when we set up partnerships like this one, we make sure that the next generation of workers is ready to fill the jobs of the future, especially for women, people of color, and environmental justice communities who have been marginalized or not seen these jobs as for them. We need to make sure everyone benefits from the energy transition.

We know that we have more work ahead of us to replicate these kinds of partnerships across the supply chain and in the maritime trades—to spread this model to new industries—and to bring low-road employers in the renewable sector up to union standards.

This agreement between Ørsted and NABTU shows that it’s not only possible for unions and industry to work together—it’s good for business. Labor—management joining forces from the start with our community partners, government—means that everyone has a say in what the industries of the future look like—so we can build not only sustainable energy, but a sustainable future with good union jobs at the center.