Ørsted, a global company that specializes in offshore wind development, has entered into a partnership with North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU), the labor organization representing more than 3 million skilled craft professionals.
The partnership will create a national agreement designed to transition U.S. union construction workers into the offshore wind industry in collaboration with the leadership of the 14 U.S. NABTU affiliates and the AFL-CIO.
Ørsted’s agreement with NABTU represents a transformative moment for organized labor and the clean energy industry. This framework sets a model for labor-management cooperation and workforce development in the budding offshore wind industry. There are currently 15 active commercial leases for offshore wind development in the U.S. According to a report released by the American Wind Energy Association, if fully built, these leases would support up to 30 GW of offshore wind capacity – representing an estimated 83,000 jobs and $25 billion in annual economic output within the next decade.
“Ørsted believes the best workers are always the best-trained workers, and we are proud to have earned a strong record of working with skilled union labor to build the country’s first offshore wind farm, the Block Island Wind Farm, where more than 300 union workers were employed,” says David Hardy, CEO of Ørsted Offshore North America. “We appreciate NABTU’s cooperation and the collaborative approach our union partners have brought to this endeavor and look forward to learning from and working with them on this groundbreaking partnership.”
Ørsted has the largest footprint of any offshore wind developer operating in U.S. waters, having been awarded 2.9 GW of power contracts up and down the Eastern Seaboard from Rhode Island to Maryland. This announcement underscores the company’s desire to solidify offshore wind’s position as an incubator for union green-collar job creation and innovation.
As part of this national framework, Ørsted, along with their partners, will work together with the building trades’ unions to identify the skills necessary to accelerate an offshore wind construction workforce. The groups will match those needs against the available workforce, timelines, scopes of work and certification requirements to fulfill Ørsted’s pipeline of projects down the East Coast, creating expansive job opportunities in a brand-new U.S. industry for years to come and raising economics for a just transition in the renewable sector.
Ørsted and NABTU, along with their affiliates and state and local councils, have agreed to work together on long-term strategic plans for the balanced and sustainable development of Ørsted’s offshore wind projects. This planning effort will help ensure that site and state-specific programming will be ready when federal permits are obtained and construction begins.
This framework demonstrates that just transition can be accomplished through prioritization of workforce training and middle-class labor standards with family-sustaining wages, healthcare benefits and pension security. Ørsted remains fully committed to coordinating with local unions and NABTU councils to create a consistent workforce pipeline and cohesive network to lead an effective just transition into the vast and complex nature of offshore wind development in the U.S.