Stevens: Championing California Working Families
An op-ed by Todd Stevens in the December 2018 Issue of the Building Trades News:
The holiday season is the perfect time for all Californians to reflect on our blessings and discover ways to make life better for those around us.
It is also time, as newly elected officials begin their duty of governing in the coming weeks, that we help shape policy to ensure our elected officials do not forget that the next generation of California workers want to fulfill the American dream and earn a livable wage to provide for their families.
Enhancing jobs and the economy must be at the forefront of our public policy and our state’s next set of leaders have a responsibility to focus on supporting good jobs that offer a pathway to the middle class.
California Resources Corporation (CRC) is California’s largest independent oil and natural gas exploration and production company on a gross-operated basis, and we focus on safely and responsibly supplying affordable energy for California by Californians. With this leadership position, we serve as a key economic engine in California by providing high-wage jobs and economic mobility through our diverse and empowered workforce. In this effort, we are proud to partner with the hard-working women and men of the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council through our statewide Project Labor Agreement.
PATHWAY TO CAREERS
In our communities, we’ve seen the impact of homelessness and the lack of affordable housing. The Building Trades and the energy industry are essential to solving this crisis. Our industry and the Trades’ world-class apprenticeship programs continue to offer a pathway for many people who do not have college degrees and still seek a viable job opportunity. One of the ways the industry is addressing these important social issues is by offering valuable workforce training. For example, CRC partners with the Building Trades in hosting a unique field training internship program with the Los Angeles Trade Technical College, offering students real-world workforce experience and a pathway for them to attain high-quality, high-paying jobs. Many students, who previously participated in this internship program, are now enjoying apprenticeships in the Trades.
California’s rich history of oil and natural gas production has helped power our growing economy, and the industry continues to enrich the lives of working families in ways most people don’t recognize, providing good, honest careers. Oil production in this state accounts for more than 360,000 jobs and generates more than $26 billion in business sales, according to research by economists at Cal State University, Fresno.
Like others in the energy industry, CRC has provided economic mobility for many working families to achieve a path to the middle class and beyond, while providing affordable energy resources that improve the quality of all Californians’ lives. As economic inequality grows at a faster rate in California than almost any other state, CRC is committed to provide high-wage jobs and career paths to sustain California’s middle class and advance our neighbors who live in or near poverty.
As we transition from the heavily industrial economy of the 20th century to one where technology and service sectors are dramatically expanding, new growth and new opportunities are multiplying. But this shift has also led to a divide within our society with high-wage tech jobs supporting a comfortable lifestyle, while many new jobs in the expanding service sector barely provide a living wage.
As the demographics of California have changed, the make-up of our workforce – unlike some other higher-wage industries – has changed along with it. Nearly one-third of the oil and natural gas workforce is Latino. That compares to just 7 percent in the tech industry.
Change has also been dramatic in the energy sector. Natural gas and renewables in electricity production have significantly reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In addition, technology innovations and workplace practices in California have allowed us to continue to produce oil in ways that offer unparalleled levels of safety and protection for workers, the environment and our local communities.
REDUCING GREENHOUSE GASES
Through these advances we have rolled back California’s GHG emissions and sustained our quality of life while growing our economy. We should remember, however, that every policy proposal delivers benefits and costs, and we cannot dismiss the impact of policies that artificially raise the price of daily necessities on millions of Californians who struggle to make ends meet.
A diverse, local energy supply is integral to sustaining a vibrant and inclusive society. We need an economic agenda that rewards workers and enhances their quality of life and protects the environment. Too often, public policies are made with an “all-or-nothing” approach. In order to expand our energy sources without creating energy poverty, we must work together to build an economy that sustains local energy sources and invests in our highly qualified local workforce, ultimately benefiting all Californians while still enabling us to achieve our ambitious environmental goals.
As we approach the end of 2018 and look forward to the New Year, we ask our newly elected officials to champion California’s blue-collar workers who contribute so much to our economy and society, workers who are still striving to get their piece of the American dream.
On behalf of the women and men of California Resources Corporation, we wish you a Happy Holidays and a prosperous 2019.
Todd Stevens is the president and chief executive officer for California Resources Corporation, the largest independent oil and natural gas exploration and production company in California. Learn more at www.crc.com.