Green Jobs Platform for Solar

SVTC’s Clean and Just Solar Campaign’s goal is to guide the solar industry towards being safe and sustainable. We believe that the solar industry has a unique opportunity to incorporate principles of social and environmental justice into its global supply, production, and recycling operations by proactively creating and implementing systems to monitor worker health and safety, chemical use and exposure, and enforce labor and environmental laws throughout the global supply chain.

As part of the Clean and Just Solar Campaign, SVTC has created the Green Jobs Platform for Solar as a way to generate discussion and gain support for the principles we have outlined below.

The green job principles should be adopted throughout the global life cycle of the product, from production to end of life, and any efforts to uphold these principles should be self-disclosed by the company.

Green Jobs Platform for Solar

  1. The workers’ activity and the products they produce must contribute to improving the quality of the environment.
  2. Workers are paid a living wage. Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate to support the health and well-being of himself/herself and of his/her family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care, child care, adequate transportation and utility costs.1
  3. Adequate health benefits are provided to workers and their families at an affordable cost.
  4. Workers have an opportunity for job advancement, and, wherever possible, share in the wealth of their company.
  5. Worker rights are protected, including whistleblower rights and the right to organize. Workers have the right to form and join unions for the protection of their interests without interference, intimidation, threats or harassment from the employer.2 Workers are not discriminated against based on race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.
  6. Reduce toxic exposure to workers by
    • Phasing out chemicals currently used in products and production that are or are suspected of being hazardous to human health and the environment.
    • Protecting workers by reducing exposure levels in accordance with the principles of the hierarchy of controls – (a) constantly striving for safer alternatives, while using (b) engineering controls to keep exposure levels as low as possible and (c) using personal protective equipment only as a ‘last resort” temporary stop-gap measure.
    • Using the Green Chemistry Principles and the Precautionary Approach to develop new products and manufacturing processes.
    • Providing workers with useful, meaningful, and material information in appropriate languages related to worker injuries and illnesses and other job hazards, and recognizing that workers have the right to know and to act when they are handling or being exposed to toxic materials.
  7. The company’s goal should be to produce products that do not contain chemicals that are hazardous to human health and/or the environment.
  8. The company is a good corporate citizen and invests in the community in which it is located. The company hires locally, pays fair share of taxes, and contributes its earnings to support sustainable social and physical infrastructure development such as roads, schools, transportation, housing, waste and recycling systems.
  9. The company abides by the strictest environmental, labor, and health and safety laws of the country in which they are located striving at all times to protect its workforce from toxics to the same extent that the company strives to protect the environment from any adverse consequences from its operations. Green jobs protect the environment and local communities with an ethical code that reflects the laws of the country with the strictest environmental rules and not the most lenient. The company will not only uphold the laws, but will also openly support sustainability and environmental health standards for the solar industry. This includes not lobbying against the Green Job Principles and self-disclosing any lobbying efforts.
  10. Environmental health and safety standards are shared throughout the global product supply chain. Information on health hazards and chemicals used in the workplace, tests to measure chemical noise and radiation levels on employees, precautions employees should take and procedures to be followed if employees are involved in an incident or are exposed to hazardous chemicals or other toxic substances should be made available and implemented by the company at all stages of the product’s lifecycle.3
  11. The environmental burden created by the product, the disposal and recycling of the product, or the company that makes the product should not disproportionately impact people of color, women, poor communities, or developing nations. All communities should be ensured equal protection under the law. The product’s design should minimize waste, thus minimizing environmental burdens on communities that dismantle the product.

Updated as of May 2009 *

We, the undersigned, support the Green Jobs Platform for Solar:

Apollo Alliance
Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice
Basel Action Network
Bay Localize
Bayview Hunters Point Community Advocates
Beyond Nuclear
Center for Environmental Health
Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment
Clean Production Action
Clean Water Action
Communities for a Better Environment
Electronics Takeback Coalition
Environment California
Environmental Health Coalition
Friends of the Earth
Green Dream Jobs,
Green For All
GUNTHER Portfolio – Edgar A. Gunther
Just Transition Alliance
Movement Strategy Center
Physicians for Social Responsibility – Los Angeles
Sacred Heart Community Service
Science & Environmental Health Network
Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition
Texas Campaign for the Environment
United Steelworkers Local 675
UNITES Professionals, India
Working Partnerships USA

1 Definition of living wage adapted from The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 25 (1) and the Center for Labor Research and Education at University of California, Berkeley.

2 The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 23(4)

3 Adapted from “Worker Rights Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.” U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety & Health Administration.

* Disclaimer:
Although solar energy could pose environmental and health problems, The Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition (SVTC) believes that there is sufficient time to adopt measures aimed at preventing photovoltaic panels from becoming a burden on the environment and communities. SVTC does not advocate or support the use of coal or other sources of non-renewable energy.

Visit read about coal’s impact on the environment, communities, and workers.