Speech | Infrastructure

Shuler to Utility Workers: Power for America Paves the Way

Hello everyone, I’m Liz Shuler, president of the AFL-CIO.

Thank you Jim (Slevin), Pat (Dillon), John (Duffy), Mike (Coleman) and the entire UWUA team for your passion, leadership and partnership. We are grateful for your activism at all levels of the AFL-CIO. And I’m so thrilled to be able to join you for this conference, even if it’s by video.

We are in a moment folks—and we are building a bold, dynamic and inclusive labor movement to meet this moment.

And to all the Power for America leaders and instructors: Your continued commitment to education and training are absolutely critical for taking us to the next level.

Experience is one of the most valuable things we have in the labor movement.

You’re using yours to teach, connect, and grow our movement.

Technology is changing how we work.

We’re transitioning to a clean energy future in the face of the climate crisis.

And we are determined to keep pace with those changes—so that working people can always find hope and opportunities with the labor movement.

Union training programs are the gold standard, and the pathway to high-demand fields—and life-changing, good union jobs.

And we are laser-focused on recruiting women, people of color, veterans, and the formerly incarcerated.

That’s exactly what Power for America has spent 12 years doing—paving the pathways to the middle class for utility workers and apprentices.

The labor movement has been training workers through apprenticeship for more than 100 years.

It’s how we’ve grown through past massive shifts in the economy.

Just like we innovated in the past, we’re innovating today.

The clean energy future will be unionized—because you’re providing training for an emerging workforce to meet tomorrow’s energy industries, empowering Utility Workers to move seamlessly between onshore and offshore wind—between solar generation and battery storage.

On-the-job training and skills development in clean energy will be in demand for a long time to come.

And because Power for America is top of the class, it can be a model for innovating apprenticeships in other sectors—like manufacturing, health care, hospitality.

You make sure your members are the best at what they do.

And because of it, Utility Workers will keep powering America for generations to come.

We have a historic opportunity to create more good, union jobs.

With the jobs bills before Congress, we’re on the brink of passing massive investments in working people and our communities.

This is the biggest worker training opportunity in almost 100 years.

And I know you are ready to meet this moment.

What’s so special about Power for America is that it’s a collaboration—labor AND management.

You help tailor the training to meet employer needs.

You have a common goal—to develop a highly trained workforce that delivers the safest, best quality work.

Company partners realize workers are an asset—not a cost against their bottom line.

That partnership is creating some of the most effective and important talent pipelines in the U.S.

And provides workers in coal communities a path forward during America’s energy transition.

You are a source of power for working people. And you help families across America build better lives. Keep it going!

Utility Workers and Power for America, thank you—I can’t wait to see where we go from here!

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