Ørsted, North America’s Building Trades Unions agree to build American offshore wind energy industry with American labor

Ørsted, the U.S. leader in offshore wind energy, announced a Project Labor Agreement with North America’s Building Trades Unions to construct the company’s U.S. offshore wind farms with an American union workforce.

A first-of-its-kind in the U.S., the National Offshore Wind Agreement, or NOWA, sets the bar for working conditions and equity, injects hundreds of millions of dollars in middle-class wages into the American economy, creates apprenticeship and career opportunities for communities most impacted by environmental injustice, and ensures projects will be built with the safest and best-trained workers in America.

Authorized by 15 international union presidents and their local affiliates, the NOWA covers all of Ørsted’s contractors and subcontractors that will perform offshore windfarm construction from Maine down to Florida.

“The signing of this unprecedented agreement is historic for America’s workers and our energy future,” NABTU President Sean McGarvey said. “NABTU’s highly trained men and women professionals have the best craft skills in the world. This partnership will not only expand tens of thousands of career opportunities for them to flourish in the energy transition, but also lift up even more people into the middle class.”

McGarvey said the announcement is a win for many.

“The constant drumbeat of public support for unions being important to maintain and build the middle class helped secure this momentous achievement,” he said. “We commend Ørsted, AFL-CIO President (Liz) Shuler, the (President Joe) Biden administration and many congressional leaders for their help and support to make today’s signing a reality and for setting forth a new framework for middle-class job creation in all energy sectors.”

Ørsted Offshore North America CEO David Hardy said he was thrilled to sign the agreement.

“This historic milestone is a celebration for workers, clean energy and economic opportunity,” he said. “The National Offshore Wind Agreement we signed with NABTU sets the industry standard from the beginning. We’re going to build an American offshore wind energy industry with American workers, family-sustaining wages and robust and equitable training programs to achieve this critical vision.”

Industry reports project that offshore wind will directly create approximately 80,000 jobs with 5.75 million-plus union work hours and tens of thousands more indirect jobs in manufacturing, maritime work, logistics and clean energy technology.

Positioning the U.S. as a global offshore wind energy leader, the NOWA training and employment provisions will increase union construction workforce capabilities to build complex offshore wind energy infrastructure and propel forward a new commercial-scale domestic energy industry. Portfolio-wide, Ørsted has already committed $23 million to enhance or establish new programming that will prepare American workers for jobs in offshore wind.

“This is what it looks like to put the words ‘high-road labor standards’ into action,” Shuler said. “The partnership between Ørsted and NABTU is monumental, for the thousands of workers who will have great jobs, and for the example it sets for the U.S. offshore wind industry.

“The project labor agreement signed today is proof that labor and employers working together can create an equitable clean energy transition with opportunity for everyone. When we make good on our values — workers’ rights, gender and racial justice, economic equality and safe and healthy workplaces — then we all win. This PLA meets that test and sets the bar high for working people and the planet. Clean energy jobs can and will be good-paying, family-sustaining union jobs.”

With diversity targets, local training programs and workforce diversity performance monitoring, the NOWA is designed to foster a diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce, while expanding opportunities in offshore wind to frontline communities. It establishes project-by-project Workforce Equity Committees to prioritize recruiting and retaining people of color, women, gender nonconforming people and local environmental justice communities. Ørsted and the unions are committed to working with NABTU-affiliated pre-apprenticeship programs and Registered Apprenticeship programs that already recruit directly from nonprofit programs to train and support communities of color, women and other priority groups, and the NOWA will build on this precedent.