Inspired by AOC’s Green New Deal, workers at Bright Power voted to form the first union at a solar power company in New York. On Monday, the company fired them.
In late April, a group of New York City construction workers, inspired by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s vision for a Green New Deal, voted to form one of the first unions in the solar energy industry. On Monday, their employer Bright Power fired its entire in-house construction crew and announced that those workers, in the midst of negotiations for their first contract, would be replaced with subcontractors.
Despite the renewable energy industry’s reputation as a progressive alternative to extractive industries, the same cannot be said for how many green energy companies treat their workers.
Bright Power’s decision to fire 12 of its workers happened during a period of growth at the company, which installs solar panels and other energy improvements on low-income housing developments in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Brooklyn, including the 1,395 unit Ocean Bay Apartments in Far Rockaway, New York, which suffered severe damages after Hurricane Sandy. This year, Inc. magazine ranked Bright Power one of the 5,000 fastest growing companies in the United States, and last year, Crain’s New York Business placed its CEO on its 40 Under 40 list. On its website, Bright Power says its mission is to “maximiz[e] returns for the real estate industry and the planet.”