Final Report for UC Berkeley Contract with the Contractor State License Board for contract CSLB-20-01, entitled “Energy Storage Systems Consultant Services”
Senior Advisor on the Green Economy
Carol Zabin (Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley) is senior advisor for the Labor Center’s Green Economy program, having served as director of the program until September 2022. She is a labor economist whose research has addressed low-wage labor markets, labor standards, workforce development, and other economic development and labor issues in the United States. Dr. Zabin has consulted with numerous unions and nonprofits on strategies and policies to improve jobs in human services and the green economy. Her current research focuses on the impact of climate and clean energy policy on California’s economy, workers, and labor unions. Recent publications include Putting California on the High Road: A Jobs and Climate Action Plan for 2030, Diversity in California’s Clean Energy Workforce, Advancing Equity in California Climate Policy, and Workforce Issues and Energy Efficiency Programs. Appointed by Governor Brown, Dr. Zabin sits on the executive council of the California Workforce Development Board. The California Energy Commission awarded Dr. Zabin the 2022 Clean Energy Hall of Fame Award for Lifetime Achievement for her exceptional contributions to California’s progress toward a 100 percent clean energy future. Before joining the Labor Center, Dr. Zabin was on the faculty at Tulane University and UCLA.
A series of briefs summarizing the recommendations for some of the critical climate sectors addressed in the Jobs and Climate Action Plan for 2030: electricity generation, energy efficiency, electric vehicle manufacturing and charging infrastructure, public transit and infill development, trucking, and waste.
Jobs v. environment is a false choice. And with the pandemic-induced economic downturn and the fires hurting Californians around the state, it’s clearer than ever that we must make meaningful progress on both fronts simultaneously, crafting an economic recovery that advances equity, climate resilience, and job quality.
California’s ambitious path towards a carbon-neutral economy is complex, involves and affects different industries and occupations in multiple ways, and holds both promise and challenges for the state’s working families. The analysis and recommendations here present actions that show a high road to climate policy is both valuable and feasible.
Berkeley Blog. As the Golden State embarks on this phase of climate action, it needs to design climate policy in ways that engage workers and disadvantaged communities. A new, green social contract will ensure that all Californians benefit directly from the clean energy future.
“These are traditionally male-dominated jobs, and so they’re subject to the same forces as the rest of the economy that make it hard for women to enter” and the best way to solve the problem is through apprenticeships, said Carol Zabin, a labor economist at the UC Berkeley Labor Center who has studied the solar industry.
Carol Zabin, with the UC Berkeley Labor Center, doesn’t see too much of a problem recruiting construction workers right now because the IRA funding prioritizes trades with apprenticeships. “There’s language written into the bill that says if you pay prevailing wage, if you use apprentices, then you get larger subsidies and incentives from the government,” she said.
“The state really has a choice whether to let the market determine skills and wages and labor practices in general, or whether it should intervene,” said Carol Zabin, director of UC Berkeley’s Labor Center.
Carol Zabin, founder of UC Berkeley Labor Center’s Green Economy Program, received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the California Energy Commission, or CEC, as part of its 2022 Clean Energy Hall of Fame Awards.
Carol Zabin discusses the skills upgrade program EVITP, which prepares electrical workers for jobs related to state climate investments in electric vehicle charging stations.
“Solar companies like to think of themselves as not part of the construction industry and better because they’re fulfilling a renewable energy mission to address climate change,” said Carol Zabin. “But they can be just as bad employers. There’s a fair amount of the most egregious violations of basic protections.”
“Certification can really support good wages, and it does identify skills that help employers know what they’re hiring,” says Zabin.
Without a statewide plan, funding and timeline to support oil workers, Carol Zabin said, a just transition “sounds like an invitation to a fancy funeral.”
“Fossil fuel workers are unionized,” Carol Zabin, director of the UC Berkeley Labor Center’s Green Economy program, told Recode. “Most clean energy workers are not.”