Remarks at Solar for Schools Press Conference as prepared

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Remarks at Solar for Schools Press Conference as prepared – Thursday, March 8, 2023

Good morning. I’m Arthur Steinberg, President of AFT Pennsylvania which represents 36,000 teachers, paraprofessionals, school staff, higher education faculty and staff, and state workers across 64 local unions.

I am proud to be here this morning with my friends from the Pennsylvania Building Trades and Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, Rob Bair and Angela Ferritto to support Representative Elizabeth Fiedler’s Solar for Schools bill. I also want to recognize additional representatives from labor, TJ Lepera from IBEW Local 98 and Tony Seiwell from the Laborers District Council as well as folks from Vote Solar.

Anyone who’s heard me speak anywhere in the nearly four years I have served as President of AFT Pennsylvania has heard me talk about the dire need for Pennsylvania to invest in the repair and improvement of school facilities across the commonwealth. As a member of the Fund Our Facilities Coalition, founded by my local, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, where I also serve as an officer, I have been intimately involved in the work to ensure our facilities are safe for our students, our educators, our staff, and our communities.

The Solar for Schools bill, authored by Representative Fiedler, addresses our facilities crisis while adding two significant benefits:

First, Solar for Schools works to lessen our dependence on fossil fuels, the surest method to ensure our air is clean and our water is pure.

Second, Solar for Schools grants will create family-sustaining, good paying union jobs for those installing, retrofitting, repairing, and maintaining solar energy projects for our school buildings. We especially support the provision requiring that all projects funded by Solar for Schools pay prevailing wage, a boon to our union siblings in the building trades.

Finally, Solar for Schools will help districts across the commonwealth keep their school facilities in good repair while keeping property taxes in check in the short term, and potentially lower in the long term thanks to the cost savings provided by solar energy.

Very seldom have we had the opportunity to advance and exciting and widely beneficial bill like Solar for Schools. Solar for Schools is a win for educators, a win for the environment, a win for labor, and a win for taxpayers. I look forward to working with Representative Fiedler, her colleagues, my colleagues in labor, and Governor Shapiro, to make this bill a reality.

Thank you.