Episode 5

May 29, 2023


May the [Work] Force Be With You

Hosted by

Jaron Burke Lonnie J. Portis
May the [Work] Force Be With You
Uptown Chats
May the [Work] Force Be With You

May 29 2023 | 00:57:30


Show Notes

Join Jaron and Lonnie as they take a short detour through space [and the internet] to look at WE ACT’s Green Institute with help from our Director of Workforce Development, Charles Calloway.

Guest Information:

  • Charles Calloway, Director of Workforce Development & Head of the Green Institute

References from the Show:

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:10] Speaker A: Welcome to Uptown Chats, a podcast where we share stories about environmental justice by and for everyday people. I'm your co host, Jaren. [00:00:19] Speaker B: And I'm your other co host, Lonnie. [00:00:20] Speaker A: Hey, Lonnie. Can you tell the folks what our mission is? [00:00:23] Speaker B: My pleasure. We react's mission is to build healthy communities by ensuring that people of color and or low income residents participate meaningfully in the creation of sound and fair environmental health and protection policies and practices. [00:00:36] Speaker A: Thank you, Lonnie. And it may not be Star Wars Day anymore, but I know there are folks listening to this podcast right now who are always thinking about Star wars. And to them I say, may the force be with you. [00:00:51] Speaker B: Okay, now that you got that out of your system, we could talk about why we're really here today, and that's to talk about workforce development. [00:00:58] Speaker A: That's right, Lonnie. It's a great topic to build on. Energy democracy, which we talked about with Stephen Roundtree during our last podcast episode. Also, it means that I get to say, may the workforce be with you. [00:01:12] Speaker B: You done now? [00:01:14] Speaker A: Yes. [00:01:15] Speaker B: You done? Okay. Well, it's bad enough that you feel the need to say that, but in the spirit of the workforce being with us, Weak is actually in the process of reimagining our workforce development program, and we're going to be launching Weak's Green Institute. [00:01:31] Speaker A: So exciting. It is. [00:01:33] Speaker B: And so the mission is the same as our workforce development program before. So we basically want to train and connect local residents to good paying jobs in the green economy. The only thing that's changing is the depth and the breadth of the program. [00:01:46] Speaker A: Wow. I like it. I like that phrasing. [00:01:48] Speaker B: The depth. [00:01:49] Speaker A: The depth and the breadth and the. [00:01:50] Speaker B: Breadth of the program. So we're going to be expanding our services offered as well as the opportunities that are available. [00:01:57] Speaker A: Sounds like you're, like, trying to expand a music collection. I want to expand the depth and the breadth of my hot tracks on my playlist. [00:02:07] Speaker B: It is very poetic sounding. It does sound very poetic, but it's serious work. It's great. It is poetic. [00:02:13] Speaker A: It is poetic. Workforce, very poetic. It is bringing people jobs. Well, it's interesting that we talk about workforce because we've been spending so much time talking about climate justice in the last episode, and it's definitely a natural segue. Actually, it was never planned this way, but it's funny how it worked out to have the workforce development episode right after the energy democracy. Thank you. I can never remember that word for some reason, right after the energy democracy episode, because there's so many things that we talked about with Steven that have motivated this boom and this motivation for having a green workforce now, right? [00:02:51] Speaker B: Yeah, absolutely. And on the policy front, there's two major policies that are driving these kind of jobs forward. The one at the local level in New York City is called local on 97. I have used that phrase and said that phrase so many times at this point, it's ridiculous. But local on 97 aims to reduce emissions produced by the city's largest buildings, 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050. And then we have a state level law that was inspired by this law called the CLCPA. [00:03:22] Speaker A: Yeah. And it's funny because we've said that acronym quite a few times and we forget it every time. But also, no one ever gets it right the first time they say it. It's like the community. [00:03:35] Speaker B: One of the words in there, climate act. [00:03:37] Speaker A: Right? [00:03:37] Speaker B: So the CLCPA, the Climate leadership and Community Protection act. [00:03:43] Speaker A: Boom. What is the CLCPA, Lonnie? What does it tell us? What does it do? [00:03:49] Speaker B: So it's among the nation's most aggressive climate and clean energy laws, and it commits to 100% zero emissions electricity by 2040. It sets legally binding emissions reduction standards to get New York completely off fossil fuels by 2050. And it mandates that 40% of the climate and energy funding be invested in disproportionately disadvantaged communities. [00:04:13] Speaker A: That's a lot. One act does a whole lot. So both of us together are creating a lot of need for buildings and businesses and other entities to make this transition happen in terms of reducing their carbon footprint and doing it in an environmentally justice oriented way. And that's great for us because that means we're trying to channel people in northern Manhattan and environmental justice communities into good paying jobs. Really, this is a great opportunity for creating this kind of pathway for all these great jobs. It's really a window of opportunity, right? [00:04:50] Speaker B: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that's kind of one of the selling points to these laws, is just saying that we now are opening up a new sector of the economy, calling it the green economy that creates green jobs. [00:05:07] Speaker A: I mean, speaking of green jobs, too, it's interesting to think about how hard that can be to define. Even as we were preparing for this episode, we were thinking about, how do we define green jobs? What does that look like and what are the key components? And we're going to take you with us on this journey as we try to find the ideal definition. I had some pulled up here immediately that I wanted to take a look at because I saw them and I was like, well, that's definitely not. We're going to play this game called that's not it. That's not it. [00:05:39] Speaker B: That ain't it. [00:05:39] Speaker A: That ain't it. [00:05:40] Speaker B: I do feel like when you say green jobs, for whatever reason, because we work in this space, we have a vision and we already know what that looks like and our brain processes it. But when you actually go down, if you were to ask somebody, how would you define a green job? I'd be like, it's the exact same. [00:05:56] Speaker A: Reaction that parents get when they ask their kids what they learn in school today. Stuff. Something. Not nothing. [00:06:02] Speaker B: My answer was nothing. [00:06:03] Speaker A: The answer is nothing. No, the answer is definitely nothing. [00:06:05] Speaker B: My mom used to ask me that every day and she would say, you would always just say nothing. [00:06:09] Speaker A: And I was like, why am I sending you to school if you're not learning anything? I don't know. That's the answer. Number two. I don't know. I don't know. Yes. Well, so first resource that we're going to check out from a quick Google search, I literally just googled Green Jobs definition. Second link I see on Google what is a green job? From international labor Organization. And their definition is green jobs are decent jobs that contribute to preserve or restore the environment, be they in traditional sectors such as manufacturing and construction, or in new emerging sectors such as renewable energy and energy efficiency. Just decent. That first part, green jobs or decent jobs that contribute to preserve or restore the environment feels a little limited. There's something missing there, right? [00:06:57] Speaker B: There's something not complete about that too, right? [00:07:00] Speaker A: Yes. Because it's not just about the environment. Right. Also about people. And there's no really mention of justice in there either. [00:07:08] Speaker B: Yeah, I think a good definition might have something about justice or a just transition kind of situation. [00:07:14] Speaker A: Love the word just transition. So we're going to say, that's not it. That's not it. [00:07:17] Speaker B: That's not it. [00:07:18] Speaker A: All right. What else can we find? All right, so let's go back. Let's look at Bureau of Labor Statistics measuring green jobs. They say green job. Green jobs are jobs and businesses that produce goods or provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources. I think we went backwards. I think the other one had more on it. [00:07:40] Speaker B: I agree. I feel like there's a combination. There's some words in that one that seem to work. [00:07:48] Speaker A: Yes. [00:07:49] Speaker B: But yeah, I think that one. [00:07:50] Speaker A: They also misspelled green jobs. It's G-R-R-E-N. Jobs. Groon jobs. Come on, beer of labor statistics. [00:07:57] Speaker B: You should actually email them. I do that. I screenshot that. I'm one of those people. If I catch a mistake that's like an error, typo or typo, I will literally screenshot it. Email somebody. Tell them. [00:08:07] Speaker A: Got him, nerd. [00:08:10] Speaker B: Got him. [00:08:10] Speaker C: Got him. Push his glasses up. [00:08:15] Speaker A: Yes. Okay, so that's not it. So let's refine my Google search. I'm going to push the limits a little bit. I'm going to try green jobs, environmental justice. Let's see if that gets. There we go. Yes. There we go. And first one that comes up. Green jobs in your community. Us EPA. Let's see what we got here. Green jobs. Jobs in businesses that produce goods or provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources. Jobs in which workers'duties involve making their established production process more environmentally friendly or use fewer natural resources. Again, still missing the mark. Kind of the same thing. I'm feeling a lack of the justice piece in there. [00:08:58] Speaker B: Yeah, it's missing there. [00:09:01] Speaker A: Where's that golden word? Just transition. That's what we're looking for, that golden. [00:09:05] Speaker B: Maybe we should google green jobs. Just transition. [00:09:09] Speaker A: See, this is also an exercise in learning how to use good search terms. So for all you people who, when they google, they say, they speak to Google as if you're asking a question, what is green jobs? We're teaching you how to use keywords. Keywords. Green jobs. Just transition. I like this one. Okay, so this is from, again, circling back to international labor organization. Maybe they got it right this time. A just transition means greening the economy in a way that is fair and inclusive as possible to everyone concerned, creating decent work opportunities and leaving no one behind. We're getting there. [00:09:44] Speaker B: I'm getting there. [00:09:44] Speaker A: Yeah. It's not quite the definition of a green job, but we're getting closer. We're getting closer. I like the direction that we're moving on. Let's try to find one more. I think if we find one more, hopefully we'll be what we're looking for. That can serve as the basis of our definition for this episode. [00:09:59] Speaker B: Maybe we have to go to, like, page six on Google. [00:10:02] Speaker A: Page six. Please let me avoid the page to go. I have reached the stage in my life I refuse to go past page one. If I have to go past page one, that means my search terms are garbage. [00:10:12] Speaker B: It's not. You need to free yourself, free myself. [00:10:15] Speaker A: From those limitations you do. [00:10:17] Speaker B: Because maybe that's where. Maybe past page six is where the good stuff is hiding. [00:10:21] Speaker A: Maybe that's where those good green jobs are hiding. Interesting. Okay. I think I found the one I like the best so far. So this is from a Presentation again. Okay. International labor organization. Okay. This is your third and last chance. This is the last one I'm going to give you. Is it a slide deck that someone put together? And what I like about it, it talks about decent working employment and environment and climate change. So I scroll down and we got a good definition here. Green jobs in decent working conditions that help protect and restore the environment, including through reducing consumption of energy and raw materials, limiting climate change, reducing waste and pollution. Protect and restore ecosystems. Help us adapt to climate change. [00:11:07] Speaker B: Come through. [00:11:08] Speaker A: There we go. [00:11:09] Speaker B: That's much better. [00:11:11] Speaker A: Third and final chance. Ding, ding, ding. You got it. I think that's it. Is there anything that's still missing from that? I think that's pretty good. That covers a lot of stuff. [00:11:18] Speaker B: Yeah, that does. That covers quite a bit. It gives a little bit broader understanding as well as. But like giving some specifics. [00:11:24] Speaker A: Yes. We got decent working conditions and specific examples of restoring the environment in ways that really concretely impact environmental justice communities. And not just abstractly talking about the environment. We love it. [00:11:37] Speaker B: I like that. Yes, that was the problem with the other definitions of abstractly talking about the environment. [00:11:41] Speaker A: Yes, we need clear definitions. So with that, I think that we can work off of that. We can let that ride. And we'll include links in the show notes for all these that we mentioned so that you can go on this journey yourself and pick out one that you like. But let's go ahead and set the frame for who we'll be interviewing today as part of the podcast. And who is that, Lonnie? [00:12:03] Speaker B: We are interviewing weak's very own Charles Calloway. [00:12:08] Speaker A: Yes. And he is our director of workforce development and has been around wex for a while. We won't introduce him too much ourselves because he'll include an introduction in our interview with him, but we want to give a couple of other terms that Charles will probably mention that we know Charles will mention in his interview, just so that you have some context for those who are not as familiar with the workforce development space, because there are some acronyms that might get thrown around. So you're familiar with them. So, Lonnie, what are some of the acronyms that we heard from Charles that might be helpful to have context for. [00:12:41] Speaker B: One that you're always going to hear in this space? In weact is OSHA. [00:12:45] Speaker A: Yes. And what does OSHA stand for? [00:12:47] Speaker B: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration. [00:12:50] Speaker A: Yes. Which I think Charles does define. He talks about it a little bit, so we don't need to go into too much detail. But now you know what OSHA stands for. There's also site safety training, which in other words, ssT. That's what you'll hear. There is also the GPRO. GPRO is a certificate program created by Urban Green Council that teaches people who build, renovate and maintain buildings the tools to integrate high performance construction and maintenance practices into their everyday work. What does it stand for? The world may never know. [00:13:28] Speaker B: It stands for green professional training. [00:13:30] Speaker A: Green professional training. Yes, got it. Capital P-R-O. Yes. G pro. [00:13:38] Speaker B: Also, I had no clue that that was from Urban Green Council. [00:13:41] Speaker A: Urban Green Council. Thank you for that definition, for that fantastic certificate program. [00:13:46] Speaker B: We also have suns, which is solar uptown now services. [00:13:50] Speaker A: Cool. So I think that covers most of the acronyms that Charles will cover. Anything else? I encourage you to check out our green jobs report on our website, which also include a link in the show notes so you can learn more about some of those acronyms and what they mean and how they translate to real jobs in our economy. Well, I think that covers all that you'll need to know to really get the most out of this episode. So we're going to go ahead and let you listen to our interview with Charles, which I think you'll enjoy greatly. And then we'll be back afterward with some brief recaps. [00:14:30] Speaker C: You so basically, I started react in 2007 as an organizer and pretty much just worked my way up throughout the organization. I worked environmental health, I worked in policy. I've worked in so many different areas of we act as an organizer and as a person who is jack of all trades. Whatever needs to be done. That was my focus. So I have a couple know outstanding campaigns that I did. One was the mother, Clara Hale. The Columbia expansion started a faith leaders for violence to justice here. So it was a lot of different things. And just recently, because my skill set, they just gave me the honorary position as director of workforce development, which is now becoming called the Green Institute. So we're going to start branding that very shortly. [00:15:25] Speaker A: Yes, we have a whole question to unpack that, but I'm glad that you touched on some of those specific things that you've done so far, because at some point, either today or at a later time, we're going to give you just your own full episode to unpack all that stuff. Because a 30, 45 minutes interview, whatever, that's not enough for all the stuff. So consider this another warm up round, okay? But since you mentioned the workforce stuff, that's obviously what the focus of the episode is. So, Lana, do you want to start us off with our first question? Yeah. [00:15:56] Speaker B: So as you mentioned, with being now director of workforce development, why do we talk so much about workforce development in the environmental justice space? [00:16:04] Speaker C: Well, in simple terms, we have environmental justice, but we have economic justice. Right. So all the people who are impacted by the pollution and the facilities that live in their community are now getting retrofitted, for lack of a better word, or change, around lowering the carbon emissions. So those same people who have been impacted should get the economic impact of doing these jobs and doing that stuff. They keep on telling me that people can't find jobs, people don't work. I'm like, I have tons of people that want to work, that have jobs, right? I just got a call from one of my trainers in solo one. He's like, dude, this is one of the best class I ever had this year. And it's May and they're booked up. Right. He was kind of impressed with my class. But we really work hard and to ensure that we recruit the people who really want to have some impact in their community. [00:16:56] Speaker A: Thank you for that. And just to expand and just to provide a little bit more context, I'm actually really glad that we're doing this episode and this interview with you right now, because the last episode that just came out was about renewable energy and about energy democracy. And we talked a lot about economic development specifically and why it's important and why it's important for communities of color, low income communities, environmental justice communities in general to be involved in this transition, this energy transition. And that's so much about what this workforce development transition is about too. Right? [00:17:26] Speaker C: Right. In saying that we had a graduation yesterday, we had the electrification graduation. Now we have a couple of trainings. But this was another electrification graduation that we were attended yesterday. And con Edison got up and did a presentation. So they talked about local load 97, which we helped pass CLCPA, which they talked about. They talked about out of gas, right? So I'm sitting there like, so you guys are all saying this, and I'm saying to myself, only reason why that has happened. Because the EJ communities have been fighting for that. Right? The only reason why isn't even in your radar. Because we have actually fought for that and made sure that that happened. [00:18:05] Speaker A: Yeah, I'm sure it's really interesting to be in that space and to hear that and be like, yep, there's a reason we're here. We're doing this great work and threading that needle. Okay. We did a lot of that policy stuff. Now, how do we translate that into real jobs? Right. [00:18:20] Speaker C: Right. And that's where the challenge is right now. They are saying that we need a workforce of a million people across the country. So where does that come from? Right. How do we train them? How do we get them there? We do a lot of training. Everyone's not ready for work. Everyone doesn't want to work. Let's be real about that. But I think that there's enough people in the black and brown community, low income community, who want jobs. Right. And they're going to have good leaders. Right. So I'm going to switch over to a sons. Right. The sole cooperative that we all know about that actually has done this work and done renewables and install over 14 solar and counting. Right. The only reason why it started, because we had people trained, but we could not get them the actual jobs with the other solar companies because people hired who they know. Right. So what we've done is created a solar cooperative that installs solar of people of total people of color. Not saying that it's tough. We're struggling, but we're making it happen. Right. And if we didn't do that, I'll be still looking on people's doors and looking for jobs for people. Because people hire individual, it's okay. But when you bring a team in, the people who have experience in doing that, they're more likely to actually hire the team than actually have to hire individual. Right. Because the team is more responsible for itself. And if we keep on performing like we've been doing, we get more jobs. Right. Instead of having the individual kind of like, oh, well, he showed up late today. When I say show up late, it's like, we know our people. You know, when you work with somebody who is not supposed to be doing what, and they know they have responsibility to the team. So by hiring a whole team and we're responsible for ourselves, it makes easiest for you to get these jobs done. It makes it more easier for people to hire us as a unit. [00:20:14] Speaker A: Yeah, that's interesting. I never would have guessed that. I guess I would have assumed the opposite. Like, people want to hire individuals, but it makes sense that when you're hiring, you have more than one position that you're hanging for. You need, like, a group of people that work well together. [00:20:26] Speaker C: Right, right. And everybody knows their roles and responsibilities. Right. We want to have a championship team. Right. [00:20:32] Speaker B: And I like what you brought up about the idea. It's one thing to train. Right. I feel like in the policy space and politics. We hear so much about job creation. Job creation, job creation, training, training. But then you kind of alluded something. That's a challenge. That's the one step further is they need to actually get a job. Can you expand a little bit on this idea of why it's challenging for people of color and low income communities once they are trained, why they aren't getting those jobs? [00:20:57] Speaker C: It goes back to what I was talking about. People hire who they know. Right. Are you going to hire a guy from the inner city if you in Long island, or are you going to hire Joe who went to high school with you? That's how simple it gets. Right. And then you have a different language. Right. We all talk different language, even though we talk the english language, but there is language discussed amongst people who don't know each other. I want to say don't know each other and don't communicate as well. Right. My up is my up. Right. You know what I'm saying? It's different in the communication levels. Right. And then we have old people hanging on to old ideologies. Right. We have a whole new workforce that is brand new to this country, like african american kids. And all these low income people in the black and brown communities are much different than those kids in Long island. How do they work together when they don't have the same basis? And once you get over that. Yeah, but that takes time. And that time is money. You don't want to have a situation on the job where it just may escalate to something that doesn't need to be. [00:22:16] Speaker A: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And you've kind of mentioned this in a lot of different ways. But just to really put a point on it, one of the questions that we want to make clear, and there's something that we're really trying to answer with all of the episodes of the podcast, is how is blank an important environmental justice issue? And in this case is why is workforce development an important environmental justice issue, and why is it an important aspect to environmental justice? If you could just put that in one sentence, what would you say? [00:22:44] Speaker C: Why is economic justice important to people who live in the violence justice community? Because without work, you cannot support and grow and do all the things that you need to do for your family and your community. If there's no money in the community, if the guys who have families don't have money to support their families, then how does that work? [00:23:04] Speaker A: Yeah. [00:23:05] Speaker B: Right. [00:23:05] Speaker A: Yeah, that's great. But that's really helpful. I think sometimes to just really put it in a precise way like that because it really clear, when you say it like that, it's so obvious. It's so clear that those things are so inherently linked. [00:23:16] Speaker C: They're inherently linked. I have to say this. Cecil Cormann, Mark, who was our deputy director who passed a couple of years ago, had that vision, right? And I didn't see the vision. I'm a taskmaster. I'm like, you give me a task, I'm going to make sure it happens. Or everything we need to do, we'll make sure it happens. But he had a really good vision about putting all these policies in place and then making sure that we get the jobs from it. And that's where we're at right now because I like dude, Cecil, there's no jobs. And he says, well, they're going to be jobs. I trust me, they're going to be jobs because we're going to revamp this whole situation with our communities and they're going to be working. I'm like, all right. [00:23:57] Speaker B: It's interesting to kind of see that come to light now because like you said, there's the passage of local law 97, there's CLCPA, there's all these policies and things that basically create a workforce. They create the need and the demand for these kind of green workforce jobs. So I guess it kind of leads a little bit into our next question as well. And you've kind of talked a little bit about it with Suns and the Green Institute. But what is weak currently doing and how did we get there? How do we get to this point of you kind of leading this space and this effort at Wex? [00:24:27] Speaker C: It really was the vision of myself and also Cecil, who really came up to me one day and know, where are the jobs at, Charles? I'm like, man, why you keep on every day? He came to my and that's when I started the solar cooperative. And it's actually taken two years to get three years to get off the ground. And we're still struggling, but we're doing fairly well without having any money to start with a company, right? We don't have the rich uncle who's like, hey, here's $100,000, go start your company. Right? We don't have that, right? We're like ten guys with $50 putting in the pot and trying to make it happen, right? And we're there now. We're not there now, but we're working at it, right? So when you ask the question, what is the vision? The vision, and I think the vision is for us to continue to build and expand our suns, right? Since our sons is solar uptown now services, but we can do heat pumps, we can think about doing energy audits, we can think about doing electrification, changing out lights and stuff like that. We can do that kind of work, right? We continue to train our people around that. We have visions in making sure that we hire 50 people before the end of 2024. That's what we want to do, work with other EPC contractors to install their solar and eventually we want to become our own solar company, right? That's our goal. That's our real. But you know, I come from the school that start at the bottom, right? That's where my old school is at, right? I've never been able to start at the top because I just didn't have all the skills at times. So usually I take my hard knots at the bottom and grow from there, even at we act. Started as an organizer, went through all the things I needed to do as organizer. And after 16 years, I'm a director now. And we asked my home, right? I mean, where am I going? I'm like, yeah, someone could probably offer me better money, but that's not what I want to do. I want to impact my community in making sure that people of color have the opportunity because I know the game now. I understand the game now. I know to actually move money. I have the tools to help out the community. I have all these tools. So if I move somewhere else, then who's going to help out the community with the 60 years experience that I have right now? So, yeah, that's what I feel. [00:27:09] Speaker A: That makes sense. What have been some of the biggest challenges in growing this program, this workforce training program that you have now? What have been the obstacles, what have been the points that have been the hardest to move it forward and what did you do to move past that? [00:27:24] Speaker C: Well, one of the big obstacles and building that something's never done right. We're building it on the fly, right. So we're trying to figure out funding for it, which does not come easy. Everyone's saying, oh, it's very competitive now. When I first started out, there was no one doing training. Now I get calls from all these other organizations like, oh, we're doing training and we need, can you help us out getting people? Or you can send people to my training program. I'm like, why don't we send my people to your training program? I have my own training program, but it's not about us, right? It's about the people. And then they come to me. Well, if we send them to us, can you get them jobs? I'm like, so I'm going to send my people over to you and then you want to send them back to me? I got to get them jobs. I'm like, how's that work? Right. I'm going to keep my people, who I think my top talent, and I'm going to send you, unfortunately, I'm going to send you what else I got? I mean. I mean, this fair is fair, right? I mean, you're not doing the recruitment. [00:28:24] Speaker A: Yeah. [00:28:24] Speaker C: And that's one of the hardest pieces is the outreach. Right. It's really just also mentoring to ensure that our people are doing what they need to do, understanding what they're getting into, making sure they're trained in the proper way. Challenges have been like making sure that people get jobs and make sure they're successful on jobs and making sure they'll be able to speak the language and use all their skills. They're talented people, but the opportunities haven't come as far often than they should has come, but they're here now. But we still have to get contractors. We need some minority owned contractors to do these jobs. And a lot of other people are getting the money. And I think hopefully when it's all said and done, that a lot of people can actually get on the bandwagon and hire these people. Right. Because training is good, but if you can't hire them, that becomes an issue. [00:29:20] Speaker B: And I love your kind of fatherly, holistic approach to this as well. It's like you're not just saying, okay, I'm going to train you. Get out, and then good luck. It's more so, like, no, we got to show you how you interview. How do you do your resume? How do you show that you have these skills? Now, once you get the job, it's really kind of like from start to finish, really kind of like you said, mentoring people. So it adds a little bit more to workforce development and training than I think a lot of people talk about in this space. I think that's really important for environmental justice communities in black and brown and low income communities as well. [00:29:52] Speaker C: Yeah. Because they don't have the opportunities. I was listening to a report yesterday that a lot of these families, that a lot of the people who are mentoring come from single family parents and the father is not in the home. So where do they get their idol or their representation of a man in the family? Right. Where do you get that from if you haven't gotten it all your life and you're 22 years old, and the only person that you have seen is maybe someone who is not doing well. So maybe you have someone on drugs or someone to that effect. And those are the people you see. You can't have an idol on tv because they don't talk back to you. Right. They can't give you encouragement. They can't give you advice. Right? That's. Go back to that Charles Barkley situation. I am not a role model. Right. And he can't really be a role model because role models are people who mentor people. Right. You can see him on tv. He can be, you know, when you're having a problem or you need to discuss somebody or about making a decision, you need to talk to somebody and have a discussion about what's good for me. Some guy came to me, he says, I want a job. I'm like, do you really want a job or do you want a career? Do you want a job? Because I can get you a job. Here, take this application, go get your security license, and go sign up and be a security person at the door, right? And then that's your top. Right. Then you do as a supervisor. Do you want a career? Right. The renewable energy situation is a career that you can build up to for the next 20 years, right? So start at the solar installer, get your SST, get your OSHA, take a green construction training, get on a roof, understand how to install solar. Then you can also go to the next level, right, which is get your napsack, your advanced napsack, your PPIP, because you know what the system is. Right. You got to take all these tests, and then you can become a developer in two or three years and talking about how to design solar systems, right. So you don't have to be a backbreaker all your life. There's a career there, right? So that's what we're trying to do, right. So even with the heat pumps, right. They got to have someone to audit the heat pumps. What size heat pump you need? Where does it go? How does it get plugged up? Someone needs a design. So if you start at the bottom, and I'm not saying that everyone has to, but it's a good place to start, because when you get to the top, you know exactly what needs to happen. [00:32:29] Speaker A: Yeah, for sure. And just for folks who are less familiar with the workforce training space, especially related to what you do, can you unpack some of those acronyms, some of those trainings? What are some of the most common trainings that people go through as part of the workforce training program. [00:32:41] Speaker C: Well, it's the site safety, which is a dob, I think. And this is just my personal opinion, OsHA is. I forget the name OSha, but it's a federal certificate to make sure, and this is how I put it, to make sure you don't kill yourself or somebody else on the job site, because. [00:32:58] Speaker B: That'S the best way to put it. [00:32:59] Speaker C: Right. So it's an OSHA, but that's how I do it, and that's how I explain it to people. Right. And they're like. Because sometimes someone says, I don't need OShA. I'm like, dude, you need OSHA. Right. Just make sure you don't kill yourself or kill somebody else on the job site. Right. So that's one solar install is pretty much what it is. Reconstruction. A lot of people live in apartment. You don't build gardens in your backyard. We don't have gardens to build. Or your dad doesn't give you a power tool. Right. So understand how to use power tools in a tape measure. Right. Those simple things that you know, I mean, I came from a school where you measure twice, cut once. Right, right. So you. You may know about that. I know about mean, my parents gave me one of those things when I was a kid. I had a little power, little saw. [00:33:51] Speaker B: The image of little Charles with, like, a saw and like a drill. [00:33:54] Speaker A: They set you on this pathway from a very young age. Yes. Your path was. [00:33:59] Speaker C: It was already set. Sometimes you deny your pathway. Right. You think that you should be doing something else, but eventually it looks like for me, it got me. I'm right where I was supposed to be. [00:34:09] Speaker A: Yeah. One question that we didn't have written down, but I think we've kind of, like, circled around a little bit, and I'm kind of curious. I want to hear your perspective on this. So much of the world now, when kids getting done with high school, thinking about their life, they're almost always thinking about, like, do I need to go to college? Is that the pathway? But that's not the right pathway for everyone. Right. Can you talk about how this changing landscape around the energy transition maybe opens up some pathways for alternative career paths and jobs for people who don't necessarily want to go to a university and don't want to have to take on debt to do that? How do you feel like the workforce development and stuff fits into that? [00:34:47] Speaker C: I'm a man from college, right. So I graduated. I felt college was very important. We all know that by having a college degree puts you in a different income. At the later stages of your life, it may not be in the very beginning stages and you can go into the trades, but having a college degree, because eventually you are going to be in a situation where you're not going to be doing labor. You can't do labor work, right. When you get in your 50s. Hey, that two x four looks much heavier than fifty s. Twenty s. Right? So I am one for college. Even just two year college now that especially in New York State is for free. So you should go to college and pick up one of those trades because I'm pretty sure they'll have in the next coming years they'll have solar installation training in college. Right? So you get your knapsack so you can actually get on time. They'll have associate with plumbing. Right. You can get that hands on stuff, right? Do I think that you can go without it? So this is a path that I see a lot of people going without college. They go to retail. A lot of my people who are coming to me and now they want to change their career. First thing, I don't want to go to college. Okay. So you got to go get a job. So one of the first jobs, you get a job, McDonald's, fast food, retail, those are the alternatives to college, right. Because they don't come out with a skill. They can read and write, do math and tick, but that's the first thing you do. And if you don't know anybody in the industry, you can't get in the industry, right. You're not getting into the unions, right? You're definitely not getting into the unions. It's not happening. So now when I look at everyone's resume and they want to go to solar, they have no experience, they have to get the training. But not saying they can't do the job, but they have to get the training and they all come from retail, McDonald's, that kind of background. So does a college make a difference? I think college doesn't make a difference in the short run, but in the long run I think that everyone should at least get associate's degree to some sort of effect down the road because education, that's one thing that no one can take very from you. If you have an associate's degree or. [00:36:56] Speaker B: College degree, do you have any, I guess you could say like policy prescription for that to kind of marry that kind of idea of needing an associate's degree in the green workforce or like in an ideal world like in New York City, let's just keep it hyper local. What would be an ideal version of what kind of policy or what kind of program do you think the city would need to do or what does the city need to do more of? [00:37:16] Speaker C: I think they're doing it right now with the new energy money that they got. Right. Everyone, we've gotten calls from city college. We've gotten calls from what other college, Hofsha, about climate justice center and Governor's island. Right. So it's all coming, right? The training is all coming. Climate change. They're saying, oh, we're going to do a climate change center on Governor's Island. City College is like, oh, we have students that you can send to us and we can train them. And we're trying to work out a deal now that we can build a solar lab. Right? So my envision is like, all the solar is going up across this country. The one thing I want to do is actually have the guys have a lab that we can actually go to if we have to send people off to a different place. Right. Because a lot of the solar stuff is going to be built in the midwest, large, clear areas. And we need to make sure that we can actually send people who are qualified and go out there and put the solar on a ground system. You can go six weeks on, six weeks off. Come on, make good money. Come back to your house. You know what I mean? If you're a young man, you come to our solar lab, you learn how to do it. We teach you how to do it. Understand the lingo, right? Go out to the midwest, stay there for six weeks. You go out there, you make your good money. You're still living at home because you can't afford to live in New York City. Right. But at least you're going for six weeks. Right. And you got money when you come back and your parents are all right, you got two weeks. You're going back. You can start saving money, you can start building money, you can start actually getting the wealth that you need as a young man. Right. So those are the things that I'm thinking that I envision that we are be doing in our workforce development in the next coming years. They're saying that they need a million workers. Million workers. Okay. Are you willing to pay, is it a million workers? So no one gets paid a lot, right? Or is there a million workers that we only need 250,000 workers and you can pay a living wage. [00:39:23] Speaker A: Yeah. [00:39:24] Speaker C: Right. So that's one thing. I'm trying to figure that out. [00:39:28] Speaker A: Yeah. [00:39:28] Speaker B: Job quality has been a huge conversation in this space as well. It's one thing to have a job, but it needs to be a quality job. You need to be able to sustain family and yourself with the wages that you get. [00:39:41] Speaker C: Yeah, and I'm working on that with the work cooperative. I mean, we get a bid, and we got a bid the other day. I'm like, dude, that's not a bid, that's robbery. We took a bid that was a little bit lower. Fine. The first job we have to. But I'm almost ready to renegotiate. [00:39:58] Speaker A: Yeah. What is that negotiation process like? Is there anything unique about it in regard to this field, or do you feel like it's negotiating just like any other kind of negotiation? [00:40:09] Speaker C: Negotiation. Like every. I call it. Everyone's trying to get their best deal, and I'm trying to make sure I get the best deal. So that way these guys have quality of work and actually quality of money because no one wants to work for $15 an hour. I can work for $15 an hour these days with the foodie spices. And every time I turn around, it's like, we're going to raise interest rates. Raise interest rates. Who's the interest rates raised for? The rich people don't get hurt well by that. Poor people do, because that's good for you, because you can give your money back and you make more money. So I just want to make sure that the quality of work is there and that you're able to work freely and willingly. And also that when the end of the week, when your paycheck comes in, you have the money that you work for. [00:40:57] Speaker A: We have one more question before we get that. I had one that just popped into my brain just thinking about, you've been in this space for a while now, and I'm sure there's been a lot of changes during that time. We've maybe talked about some of them, but what would you say are some of the biggest changes that have happened in the workforce development space over the last 15 to 20 ish years that are especially impacting environmental justice communities? [00:41:23] Speaker C: Well, I think one of the things that are happening is that, well, I don't know if it's happening yet, but the unions keep on saying that we need to hire so many people. I like to see that happen. They're saying that they have to hire people of color, so many people, to keep their union books. All right, but here's the piece about that. You can hire your union, can be 30% of the workforce, can be people of color. But if you're not working on a job, then it doesn't make a difference. [00:41:54] Speaker B: Interesting. So they can be a part of the union and be a part of. [00:41:58] Speaker C: Some kind of dues, right? [00:42:00] Speaker A: Yeah. [00:42:00] Speaker C: You got to still pay your dues so you can be a part of the union, but if you're not getting the work to do your work, then. And one thing I experienced is that I worked with a union. They were doing asbestos. They say they hired ten of our people. So, great. All right. They only put the people on for two days a week. That counts as minority owned workers. They have the number of minority people on their books, but they only give them 2 hours. 2 hours, three days of work. Who can live off of that? And then they got to call you in the morning. You don't even have a set day. Right? [00:42:39] Speaker B: On call. [00:42:39] Speaker C: You're on call. Right. So if they give you set days, maybe you can work that out. Right. But everyone works to work five days a week. If you're trying to make money for your family, everyone works five days a week. Whether you're a woman or a man, you need to know how many days of work. If you can juggle around four, and then that one day you like, hey, we ain't got to work today. They can live with that. But I got to call you in the morning, say, can you come to work at 06:00 in the morning? Then if you had something to do, you got to rearrange your schedule and all that kind of stuff. So it's really about ensuring that not only that the minority people get into union, but they also get 40% of the hours or 30% of the hours that's mandated for people of color. So you can put 50 people in the union, but long as they get the hours right to bring home to their families. [00:43:30] Speaker A: Yeah. It's not just about getting the jobs, it's about actually being able to work, put those skills to use. Yeah, I'm glad that you brought that up, because that makes me think of one other thing, and I promise we're going to get to this last question eventually, but we got to get all this stuff while you're here. It reminds me of a situation that happened with fresh, direct warehouses and probably other places, too, where the company says, oh, we're going to give a certain percentage of the jobs to people in the community. Right. And they do some of that, but then after a year, those people are all let go and they hire other people. Right. So that's another example of companies and businesses making promises about giving jobs or providing jobs for people of color and low income people. But then not maintaining that, what can we do in an example like this moving forward? How do we prevent that from happening or make sure that we're. [00:44:20] Speaker C: That is. I didn't even think about that. Thank you very much. Because now I have to put that into my elevator test. I'm like, dude, right? Because after four or five years or after a year, you meet the requirements. Then who says that you don't change requirements and then they just lose their job completely. [00:44:39] Speaker A: Yeah. How do we sustain those jobs over time? [00:44:43] Speaker C: Well, I guess it's got to be put into know. IRS is very powerful. The IRS is. They can actually. They know that we can make that happen. That'll be good. But I won't put that in my hour pitch. Right. Like, these jobs have to be maintained perpetuity, 40% perpetuity and getting the hours. So that way those communities of color can actually rise up because you give people money, and they'll spend it for the first year, but the second year, they'll get wiser and start saving it and start building up their community. But if you don't give them money to build up their community, it doesn't happen. [00:45:23] Speaker A: Yeah, it's an open question. Maybe we'll circle back to that question next time we have you on the podcast, which we definitely will. [00:45:30] Speaker B: There's a lot that we can have Charles back on the podcast. So many things to unpack. [00:45:33] Speaker A: So many things. So many things. Do you want to hit us with that last question or any other questions that you had? Yeah. [00:45:38] Speaker B: So we talked a lot about what you do and what we've been doing at we act and you talked about the Green Institute and Suns, but. So how does someone get involved? If someone's like, I'm listening to this. I'm really interested in kind of doing this. This resonates with me. Where would they start? [00:45:52] Speaker C: Well, the first thing that would start, know one thing about, if you know me, I'm always on my phone. I get calls from everybody. So you call me up phone, I'll give you my number. 917-561-7209 and hopefully in the next month or so, we will have something on our website that talks about the great institute. Right. And we will have a page, a CRM. We're building a CRM. We're building an LMM learning management system. So we'll have all that kind of stuff on the weak web page in the next coming months. [00:46:25] Speaker B: Can you give us, like, a really brief understanding of what the Green Institute looks like? What's the higher level understanding of what it is. What is the Green Institute? [00:46:33] Speaker C: So the Green Institute, the vision of the Green Institute is to ensure that people will come get trained to do the jobs that are coming out for renewables. And we train them in, hopefully we'll train them in offshore wind, EV chargers, charging stations. Right. Because we're not fording the cars. Right. The only way it becomes equal, if we get the jobs to put the EV stations in our community gets those jobs. Solar installation and also renewable energy, which is like green audits, heat pumps, those are the three, four areas that we want to make sure we train people in. But then again, we can train 100 people in that. But how many jobs are out there? Right. So where are the contractors who are going to hire these people? Right. We don't have those people yet. Right. So if you don't have a contractor who can hire those people, how are we going to make sure this stuff happens? Right. [00:47:33] Speaker A: So that's phase two. [00:47:34] Speaker C: That is phase two. And I don't think they're working on the training, but they're not actually developing minority owned businesses to become tribe types. I haven't seen anything out there yet. We have to create our own. Remember, we had to create sons because there was no contractors to do that. And then we had to go scuffling and hustling to get our own jobs. But this should make this a little bit easier. They got to make it a little bit easier if they want all this work done. [00:48:00] Speaker A: Yeah. So in other words, call Charles. Yeah. Let's run that number for us one more time. [00:48:06] Speaker C: Charles. 917-561-7209 Charles is about to become the. [00:48:11] Speaker A: Most popular man on the Internet. [00:48:13] Speaker B: Yeah, your phone's going to keep. [00:48:15] Speaker A: You need a second phone. You need to burn a phone. [00:48:20] Speaker C: Here we go. You can also send me my email to [email protected]. Which is also very simple. [00:48:26] Speaker A: Yes. We'll make sure to post that in the show notes so you can check those out. [00:48:29] Speaker C: And we are getting a workforce development email. So I'm going to put that in there just because when this comes out, it's available. It's [email protected]. [00:48:39] Speaker A: There you go. [00:48:40] Speaker C: There we go. [00:48:41] Speaker A: Yes. Any closing thoughts? Anything that we didn't get to, Charles that you feel like you wanted to touch on while you're here specifically around? [00:48:46] Speaker C: No. I think you guys asked a good amount of questions. Hopefully, I was able to answer them completely and precisely. But I think that when we look at where 2024 is going to bring us, because we're almost done with 2023. And I think the secret going to get people jobs is going to be actually ensuring that we have enough contractors to take on our workers. And if it doesn't happen, then a lot of people just going to be trained. They're not going to have anywhere to go. And it's the same thing is going to happen is that Joe in Long island, who has a contracting business, is going to hire Joe. Melvin. But John down the street, my dad's name is actually Melvin. [00:49:34] Speaker B: That's a really random name to choose. Melvin. [00:49:37] Speaker A: You feel targeted? [00:49:39] Speaker C: Well, it has to be John. All right. It can't be Melvin, right? So, yeah, to make sure that John and Joe have a job, and if they don't have enough minority on contractors to do the work, then they're not going to be able to get that done. [00:49:55] Speaker A: There we go. A great note to leave it on. And hopefully we have some answers to that. [00:50:00] Speaker C: Also, maybe we need to have Joe, who's a contractor, have some sensitivity training to encourage him to want to hire people of color to be on his crew so we can actually do two things right. So we have a meeting with Joe, who's a minority who's at a company, but encourage him to hire and get to know people of color so that way he can hire them. So that's another piece that we want to kind of tie that into. [00:50:32] Speaker A: Yeah, we're going to invite Charles back on to fill out this narrative. I like Joan Melvin. Yes, it's going to be a whole John. [00:50:38] Speaker B: Joan Melvin. [00:50:39] Speaker A: Yes, it's a whole spinoff show about workforce development. Well, thank you, Charles. We appreciate you being on the show. You're a wealth of wisdom, and we can't wait to let the listeners enjoy. [00:50:48] Speaker C: All right, thank you very much and we'll talk to you guys soon. [00:50:55] Speaker D: Hello. My name is Taisha, and I'm the community organizer in the organizing team at Wex, and we would like for you to come join us at our membership meeting on Saturday, June 10 at 10:00 a.m. And learn more about environmental justice. This month we have our climate justice working group talking about emergency preparedness plan in northern Manhattan with the use of the climate ready uptown plan known as Krup, the climate ready Uptown plan helps understand the individual risks to climate related disasters such as extreme heat and flooding. We will also be getting updates on the city council race and the rain choice voting for election day. Our membership meeting is located at the most worship Prince Hall Grand Lodge, which is located 454 West 55th street between St. Nicholas and Amsterdam. We hope to see you there. [00:51:46] Speaker B: I mean, other than we need to have Charles back on the another. What's a big takeaway? [00:51:52] Speaker A: I think that the thing that we really landed on, that I really appreciated having an epiphany moment from Charles. I'm sure he thought about it before, but it really came through in a specific moment in that interview, was the fact that we need these green jobs that we're advocating for to be sustainable. We need these jobs to stick around for more than a brief period of time and for them to be available for people who have been impacted by the burdens of environmental justice for so long. We need them to benefit from this transition over the course of their lives, and not just for one job, one year. [00:52:32] Speaker B: I like that. I think that's a great takeaway. And I think one of the ones that stood out for me was more. So how many barriers there are to access to these jobs, particularly for disadvantaged communities and communities of color, marginalized people. [00:52:47] Speaker A: Right. [00:52:47] Speaker B: And really having to start almost like a handholding from start to finish to get people through these trainings and then also teaching them how to interview, how to build your resume, who to talk to, connecting them with the actual jobs, and really making an effort to make that almost like, I guess you could say full service right. From start to finish. So that it leads into, what you were saying, a sustainable, lifelong career. [00:53:15] Speaker A: Yeah, exactly. And I appreciate that, having briefly come through our green jobs report that they talk about some of these specific needs around mentoring. And Charles mentioned that again, as well, about these trainings have to be holistic, and they have to cover multiple dimensions to ensure that they're not just providing the skills, the work skills, but the life skills to get these jobs. And I think that's an often overlooked part of making sure that this green transition happens in an appropriate way, in the right way. Right. [00:53:50] Speaker B: One thing that I also want to see that we didn't really talk about necessarily with Charles is more entrepreneurship and leadership roles being available for people of color in this green job space. [00:54:04] Speaker A: Yeah, exactly. I think the closest we got to it was talking about suns and talking about why the need for it is there. Because, for example, with the solar jobs, like Charles said, so much of the it's who you know kind of situation. [00:54:17] Speaker B: You hire who you know. [00:54:18] Speaker A: Exactly. And so you need to have black owned businesses so you can get those contracting jobs, you can create those connections with folks who are not gatekeeping. [00:54:29] Speaker B: Absolutely. [00:54:30] Speaker A: Yeah. I also want to mention that in our interview with Charles, I know he talked a lot about young men specifically in these roles, partly because so many of the community members who have participated in our workforce training program up to this point have been young men. But we want to remind folks that in this green and just transition, we need folks from all across the gender spectrum to join the green workforce and to take on these roles that are so important to make sure that we address climate change and are moving forward with climate justice. Right. Absolutely. [00:55:05] Speaker B: You want to diversify the workforce, the green workforce, in many different ways. [00:55:10] Speaker A: Yes. All the dimensions. [00:55:12] Speaker B: As many dimensions as possible. [00:55:14] Speaker A: Yes. Into the multiverse. [00:55:17] Speaker B: The green job multiverse. [00:55:19] Speaker A: Yes. The green job multiverse. [00:55:20] Speaker B: God, don't tell us that this is. [00:55:21] Speaker A: Maybe the most nerdy episode we've had so far. And I love it. [00:55:24] Speaker B: God, yes. [00:55:26] Speaker A: Yeah. Anything else that we think is important for the people to know or sing? Are there any specific actions that we want people to take? [00:55:34] Speaker B: One of the actions you can take is that if you are interested in joining the green know call Charles. [00:55:40] Speaker A: Yes. [00:55:41] Speaker B: That was probably one of the main. That was his clear call action. [00:55:45] Speaker A: Yes. Read our green jobs report and learn more about why it's an important part of the just transition that we're all advocating for that. Well, not all of us that we all should be advocating for. Yeah. [00:55:55] Speaker B: And it just makes the clear connection between how important workforce development is when we're talking about environmental justice as well. [00:56:04] Speaker A: Exactly. Well, with that, we'll go ahead and wrap up. Thank you so much for listening. We appreciate you making it this far in the episode and hope that you learned something and are inspired to be a part of the green workforce or to share this information with someone you know who would benefit from that information, because we need them all. [00:56:21] Speaker B: And I'm going to give you permission to say this tagline one last time. [00:56:26] Speaker A: And to all of you Star wars fans out there, I say one more time, may the workforce be with you. [00:56:31] Speaker B: With that said, check out we act on Facebook at weactford. That's weactforeJ. Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube at weactford. That's W-E-A-C-T number four, EJ. And check out our website, weact.org, for more information about environmental justice. [00:56:51] Speaker A: And last but not least, make sure to reach out to us. If you have questions or thoughts or comments about the episode, you can reach out to us at [email protected] and you'll get a response from us. So thank you, and we'll see you next time. Bye.

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