Today, North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) and Ørsted announced a project labor agreement (PLA) to construct the company’s U.S. offshore wind farms with an American union workforce.

A first-of-its-kind in the U.S., the National Offshore Wind Agreement (NOWA) sets the bar for working conditions and equity, injects hundreds of millions of dollars in middle-class wages into the American economy, creates apprenticeship and career opportunities for communities most impacted by environmental injustice, and ensures projects will be built with the safest and best-trained workers in America, NABTU officials said.

Authorized by 15 International Union Presidents and their local affiliates, the NOWA covers all of Ørsted’s contractors and subcontractors that will perform offshore windfarm construction from Maine down to Florida.

“The signing of this unprecedented agreement is historic for America’s workers and our energy future. NABTU’s highly trained men and women professionals have the best craft skills in the world,” Sean McGarvey, president of NABTU, said in a statement announcing the pact. “This partnership will not only expand tens of thousands of career opportunities for them to flourish in the energy transition but also lift up even more people into the middle-class. The constant drumbeat of public support for unions being important to maintain and build the middle class helped secure this momentous achievement. We commend Ørsted, AFL-CIO President Shuler, the Biden Administration and many Congressional leaders for their help and support to make today’s signing a reality and for setting forth a new framework for middle-class job creation in all energy sectors.”

Ørsted operates America’s first offshore wind farm, Block Island Wind Farm in Rhode Island, and has the largest U.S. offshore wind energy portfolio. Ørsted, with its joint venture arrangements, has six offshore wind projects in development, which include approximately 5,000 megawatts, enough to power more than 2 million homes.

In New England, the company and its joint venture partner, Eversource, are building Revolution Wind (704 MW), Sunrise Wind (924 MW) and South Fork Wind (132 MW). Ørsted’s New Jersey projects include Ocean Wind 1 (1,100 MW), in partnership with PSEG, and Ocean Wind 2 (1,148 MW). In Maryland, Ørsted is developing Skipjack Wind (966 MW).

“This historic milestone is a celebration for workers, clean energy and economic opportunity,” said David Hardy, CEO of Ørsted Offshore North America. “The National Offshore Wind Agreement we signed with NABTU sets the industry standard from the beginning. We’re going to build an American offshore wind energy industry with American workers, family-sustaining wages, and robust and equitable training programs to achieve this critical vision.” 

Industry reports project that offshore wind will directly create approximately 80,000 jobs with 5.75 million-plus union work hours and tens of thousands more indirect jobs in manufacturing, maritime work, logistics and clean energy technology. Positioning the U.S. as a global offshore wind energy leader, the NOWA training and employment provisions will increase union construction workforce capabilities to build complex offshore wind energy infrastructure and propel forward a new commercial-scale domestic energy industry. Portfolio-wide, Ørsted has already committed $23 million to enhance or establish new programming that will prepare American workers for jobs in offshore wind. 

“This is what it looks like to put the words ‘high-road labor standards’ into action,” said AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler. “The partnership between Ørsted and NABTU is monumental, for the thousands of workers who will have great jobs, and for the example it sets for the U.S. offshore wind industry. The project labor agreement signed today is proof that labor and employers working together can create an equitable clean energy transition with opportunity for everyone. When we make good on our values — workers’ rights, gender and racial justice, economic equality, and safe and healthy workplaces — then we all win. This PLA meets that test and sets the bar high for working people and the planet. Clean energy jobs can and will be good-paying, family-sustaining union jobs.”

With diversity targets, local training programs, and workforce diversity performance monitoring, the NOWA is designed to foster a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce, while expanding opportunities in offshore wind to frontline communities. It establishes project-by-project Workforce Equity Committees to prioritize recruiting and retaining people of color, women, gender nonconforming people and local environmental justice communities. Ørsted and the unions are committed to working with NABTU-affiliated pre-apprenticeship programs and Registered Apprenticeship programs that already recruit directly from nonprofit programs to train and support communities of color, women and other priority groups, and the NOWA will build on this precedent.