THE BLOG
08/30/2010 10:54 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

This Labor Day, Green Companies and Union Workers Building a Sustainable Economy Together

It's no secret that employers and workers alike are facing the worst economy since the Great Depression. But innovative businesses across the country are proving how the clean energy economy can give all workers a shot at the American Dream.

In advance of Labor Day, American Rights at Work Education Fund is releasing its annual report, The Labor Day List: Partnerships that Work, which this year highlights positive labor-management relationships that are working in the clean energy economy. The companies and union employees featured in our report are leading the way toward a sustainable economy in which businesses thrive, the planet prospers, and workers share in the success they help create.

Read the 2010 Labor Day List on our Web site here.

The employers in our report and their responsible business and labor practices mark a shift toward a more sustainable model for workers, shareholders, and the planet. Instead of squeezing workers, each of these companies treats their union workforce as an equal partner. And instead of causing environmental problems, these employers, employees, and their unions work together to solve them, and are finding success in the process.

As Molly Bordonaro, Senior Vice President of Gerding Edlen Development, one of the companies featured in the 2010 Labor Day List, said, "In the business and development world, time is money. We've been able to prove demonstratively higher rewards and more valuable assets, even in a down economy, because of union labor."

The companies below each deserve honors for their environmental stewardship, and in celebration of Labor Day they receive distinction for respecting their employees' rights and decision to join unions, providing fair wages and benefits, and facilitating strong labor-management partnerships. Read our report for the full story:

* Thanks to the fruitful relationship between its employees and their union, the United Food and Commercial Workers, Eurofresh (Willcox, AZ) is the leading year-round producer and marketer of pesticide-free greenhouse tomatoes and cucumbers. The company's commitment to sustainable practices, food safety, and workers' rights make it a standout in the agricultural industry.

* Flambeau River Papers (Park Falls, WI) is a pulp and paper mill that produces premium recycled paper used by commercial printers and envelope-makers. Flambeau's story illustrates a path to sustainability for the U.S. paper industry: respecting workers' rights and advancing environmentally-sound technologies. The company is on a mission to develop its own biofuel plant that will allow the company to operate fossil fuel free by 2013 and counter rising energy costs in the process.

* A pioneer in the green building industry, Gerding Edlen Development (Portland, OR) relies on skilled union workers as it revitalizes communities, furthers innovation, and creates good jobs. This commercial real estate and investment firm has developed more LEED-certified green buildings than any other private development firm in the country. The company is now moving toward a "deeper shade of green," surpassing existing standards to develop projects that produce zero net carbon emissions.

* Golden Solar (Golden, CO) was founded by a master electrician and longtime member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, in response to groundbreaking renewable energy legislation passed in Colorado. Golden Solar installs solar panels for residential and commercial clients using 100-percent union labor.

* At Litecontrol (Hanson, MA), an architectural lighting company, workers have both a literal stake in the company - through an Employee Stock Option Plan - and a voice on the job through their union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Litecontrol produces energy-efficient lighting systems for office buildings, schools, hospitals, and libraries, and minimizes its environmental footprint through sustainable manufacturing practices. Litecontrol's empowering mission is to "enable employees to share in the success they help create."

* Over the last 50 years, development company McGough Construction (St. Paul, MN), has built many of the iconic structures that grace the Twin Cities skylines, while sustaining an exceptional working relationship with local unions, including the St. Paul Building and Construction Trades Council. McGough also specializes in 'greening' existing buildings by implementing recycling programs, upgrading building systems to enhance energy efficiency, and providing resources for clients who want to pursue green building certifications. McGough has earned the Minnesota Safety Council's "Award of Honor" five years in a row.

* Sharp Solar (Memphis, TN) is now one of the world's fastest-growing renewable energy companies, and attributes its growth to a strong relationship with its workers' union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Sharp Solar is bringing good manufacturing jobs back to the United States while providing residential, commercial, and utility customers access to clean energy. The National Photovoltaic Construction Project uses Sharp Solar products exclusively, because Sharp's Memphis facility can deliver a product more quickly than an overseas factory.

* United Streetcar (Clackamas, OR) provides a model for the new, clean energy economy by helping expand energy efficient transit solutions, U.S manufacturing, and good union jobs. United Streetcar rolled out its premiere tram in Portland, OR in 2009 - the first U.S.-produced modern streetcar in nearly 60 years - and buys more than 70 percent of its source materials from U.S. companies. The company's streetcars are also operating in Seattle, WA, and Tucson, AZ.

The employers and workers featured in the 2010 Labor Day List are visionaries in various sectors of the clean energy economy. Yet all of these companies have one common denominator: a shared vision that to build a truly sustainable economy and planet, green jobs must be good jobs.

Visit American Rights at Work and American Rights at Work Education Fund by going to www.americanrightsatwork.org.