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Report provides roadmap for how to transition fairly so all communities benefit

NEW YORK, MAY 24, 2022 — Today, Jobs to Move America (JMA) unveiled a new report that details the impact of transitioning the nation’s 500,000 school buses to electric vehicles. 

Switching to green school buses is badly needed, but there are many questions about how to transition in a way that keeps costs low and centers the needs of students, workers, and communities. 

The report contains extensive research and statistics on electric school bus technology, the costs of transition, the impact on existing workers and students, the ecological and social impacts of lithium-ion batteries and other crucial topics. 

The research is grounded by insights gained from over two dozen interviews with 10 school districts, fleet operators, utilities, unions and more. The report provides a roadmap for advocates, school district officials, policymakers, and other stakeholders to drive a transition to ESBs that benefits all workers and students. 

This report provides numerous recommendations, including:

  • Prioritizing funding for disadvantaged communities. Funding programs should create explicit, well-defined, and accountable preferences for communities who have historically been blocked from accessing new technologies. 
  • Promoting equitable employment practices and good jobs for school bus drivers, attendants, and operators through workforce impact assessments, in which fleet operators evaluate the expected impact of ESBs on school bus drivers, attendants, and technicians, and provide their plan to ensure that workers retain their positions, receive the training they need, and maintain wage and benefit levels. 
  • Incorporating the U.S. Jobs Plan in funding streams and solicitations. ESB funding programs should promote the development of a high-road ESB supply chain. One of the best ways to do this is through the U.S. Jobs Plan, where manufacturers make enforceable commitments on the creation of good jobs and the use of equitable hiring and training practices. 
  • Ensuring safe and proper installation of charging infrastructure and promoting recycling and responsible mining 

Ian Elder, senior national researcher at Jobs to Move America and the report’s author said, “Now is the time to transition to electric school buses: to protect kids’ health, to provide clean air in communities overburdened by pollution, and to create the jobs of the future. But as this research shows, these outcomes are not a given. We need to invest in this technology wisely and fairly in a way that centers kids, communities, and workers.”

“Switching to electric school buses is an opportunity to clean up the air our children breathe and put our communities to work, and we are proud to see a report that lays out how we can complete this transition in a way that benefits both students and transportation workers. Chispa is proud to work with partners like JMA to protect workers and create good jobs in electric school bus manufacturing, installing and servicing. We need solutions that will center the health and economic needs of communities of color historically excluded from these sectors.”

Johana Vicente, Senior National Director of Chispa

“More than 1,000 UAW members work at two of the largest school bus manufacturers in the U.S., where, through collective bargaining, workers have secured family-sustaining wages and safe, healthy, and respectful workplaces.  JMA’s report shows how electric school buses are going to clean up the air our kids breathe every day on their way to school–and it shows how the investment in electric school buses can help build up a high-road EV bus and truck industry that keeps on providing the good jobs our communities need.”

– Cindy Estrada, VP, United Auto Workers

“VEIC has been providing hands-on support to pilot and deploy electric school buses across the country. Our experience in the field has highlighted the many benefits of electrifying school buses from health to environment to equity. This report by JMA echoes our experience and is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in transitioning to electric school buses.”

Jennifer Wallace-Brodeur, Director of Consulting, VEIC

“Children are among the most vulnerable to harm from air pollution caused by diesel emissions because of their higher respiration rates and the long bus rides that many take daily. Our kids deserve a clean ride to school, and so do the bus drivers taking them each day. Jobs to Move America’s new report is essential reading for anyone working to transition the nation to 100% electric school buses in a way that uplifts communities and creates good union jobs while tackling the climate crisis and cleaning the air.”

Katherine García, director of Sierra Club’s Clean Transportation for All campaign

“With millions of schoolchildren breathing toxic air each day, we can’t afford to wait to electrify our nation’s school buses. This new JMA report lays the foundation for a just transition that ensures communities most impacted by pollution will get the attention and resources they need, while focusing on the workforce that will power it. Electric school buses are an investment in our kids’ health, a tool of job creation, and a climate solution that will set us on the path to zero emissions and a clean energy future.”

Athena Motavvef, Earthjustice Legislative Representative

“JMA continues its leadership in shaping well-designed policy on electric school buses that promotes the interests of children, workers, and frontline communities. JMA’s analysis demonstrates that investment in electric school buses that sets job quality standards and prioritizes communities with high pollution burdens will maximize improvements in children’s health and learning, create high quality jobs, and promote environmental justice.”

Shannon Baker-Branstetter, Director of Domestic Climate Policy, Center for American Progress

Associated Resources

Webinar: Community Benefits Agreements (CBA) 101

Melanie J. Prasad, JMA’s Legal Director, spoke at “Community Benefits Agreements (CBA) 101” hosted by the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of the Secretary in collaboration with the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity on June 24, 2022. The goal of the webinar is to familiarize all participants with CBAs, especially considering the recently passed …