Wind technicians working for Michigan giant DTE Energy overwhelmingly voted to join Local 223 recently. The new 25-member unit joins the UWUA’s growing number of members working in the booming renewable energy industry.
With the Local 223 victory, Michigan becomes the only state in the nation where the operation and maintenance of wind turbines owned and operated by regulated electric utilities is performed by workers who will enjoy the benefits of a union contract. UWUA locals that are part of the Michigan State Utility Workers Council (MSUWC) represent another 40-plus wind technicians employed by Consumers Energy, the state’s other regulated utility.
“We welcome our newest members with open arms and are looking forward to negotiating a first contract that will show the country that good union jobs are possible in this sector and what they mean for workers and their communities in the transition to renewable energy,” says Local 223 President and National E-Board member Juanita Ray.
“This is huge for the UWUA, workers in renewables, and the nation,” echoes James Harrison, National Director of Renewable Energy. “Up until now, employment in wind, solar and other renewables has fallen far short of being family-supporting, good union jobs. With our successes, and the backing of policy makers in Washington, D.C. and the states, we remain hopeful that the promise of good jobs in the transition to renewables will be kept.”
Recognizing the need to support organizing and representing wind, solar, battery storage and other renewable energy technicians, the UWUA’s Power for America Training Trust has created a first of its kind Department of Labor-certified Apprenticeship Program for Renewable Specialists.
The wins in Michigan grow out of the UWUA’s strength there as the state transitions to electric generation by renewables. State law requires each utility to provide a detailed electric generation plan, including retirement of coal plants and investment in green energy. Local 223 and the MSUWC have worked hard to make sure their members didn’t lose out in the state’s transition to renewables.
Michigan now ranks as the 15th most wind producing state. Wind farms are spread throughout rural Michigan. The newly organized Local 223 members work on DTE wind farms close to Breckenridge and Bad Axe, MI.