Good things are happening! Clean-energy manufacturing projects are headed to former coal towns, California farmworkers score their first labor win under a landmark new law, New York will automatically seal old criminal convictions, regulators plan a major crackdown on bank overdraft fees, and workers across the country stage actions during the year’s biggest shopping weekend.

From Coal To Wind Turbines

Millions in federal funding are going to former mining towns and other communities once reliant on manufacturing and fossil fuels to pay for new clean-energy manufacturing projects, in an effort to bring new renewable jobs to the United States’ industrial heartland.

The U.S. Department of Energy announced this week that it was awarding $275 million to seven different manufacturing projects, funding that comes from President Joe Biden’s 2021 trillion-dollar infrastructure deal. In Louisville, Colorado, and Vandergrift, Pennsylvania, two former coal towns, old factories will be used by a window supplier to manufacture insulated glass that helps make buildings energy efficient. In Pittsburgh, a magnetics company will build a new factory to produce components for electric vehicles and other electric infrastructure.

The funding will also bring a wind turbine producer to Vernon, Texas, a former mining town; a metal manufacturer to Weirton, West Virginia; a battery electrode manufacturer to Bridgeport, Connecticut; and a glass manufacturer to Detroit. 

Such projects are expected to bring new jobs to their chosen communities, some of which have been hollowed out by the nationwide decline in mining jobs. In West Virginia, for instance, manufacturing company Boston Metal expects that the project will create more than 200 jobs, its CEO told the New York Times. In Pittsburgh, magnetics company CorePower will employ between 25 and 50 workers.

The initiative, proponents hope, will prioritize workers at risk of being left behind by the transition away from coal and other fossil fuels — giving them jobs while also supporting clean-energy manufacturing in the U.S. While the U.S. has lagged behind globally in this industry, investments by the Biden administration, in particular courtesy of the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, have spurred new clean-energy production across the country. With this new funding, mining towns will now reap some of those benefits.

California Farmworkers Use New Law To Unionize

Hundreds of workers at a tomato farm in California’s Central Valley are now unionized — the first farmworkers to organize under a new law that came into effect this year that makes it easier for agricultural workers across the state to join a union.