Here at Local Union 94, our number one priority is jobs. Jobs, and more specifically, dependable Union jobs, provide financial stability for not only the individual and families, but also state and local economies. Today, both of these things, essential to our success as a community, are at risk.
Due largely in part to abundant new supplies of natural gas driving the cost of electricity to record breaking lows, as well as increasing regulatory costs, and growth in unreliable, low-capacity renewables, nuclear plants around the nation are facing economic crisis. Since 2013, eight plants across the US have been shut down or slated for early retirement, with four more claiming imminent risk of closure. The impact of these closures reaches further than just jobs. When California replaced their nuclear energy with natural gas in 2012, carbon emissions rose by nine million metric tons; when Vermont Yankee closed in 2014, the state suffered an economic loss of nearly $500 million annually; and when Maine Yankee closed in 1996, the school population decreased by more than 40%, local tax rates doubled, and real estate prices plummeted. While economic pressures may have closed these plants, it seems the impact may have created a butterfly effect, leaving even more economic and environmental damage in its wake.
Almost 50% of the electricity consumed in the state of New Jersey is sourced from our three nuclear power operating units—Salem and Hope Creek. In fact, 97%, nearly all of New Jersey’s carbon-free, pollution-free energy is sourced from our nuclear power plants, producing enough electricity to power 2.7 million New Jersey homes around the clock.
Local Union 94 represents about 750 members working between these two nuclear locations, with total employment numbers reaching about 1,600; this is not to mention an additional 1,000 union contractors employed during outages, and 1,600 ancillary and community positions that service the immediate area. That brings the total number of revenue generating employees in Salem County, the poorest county in the state of New Jersey, to about 4,200. With an average annual salary of $100,000, 35% higher than non-nuclear jobs in Salem County, that equates to $175 million in wages, $60 million in N.J. goods and services, and $30 million in local and state taxes at risk if we do not act now to save our plants. That is not to mention that if New Jersey’s nuclear plants were to close, the electricity they provide would be largely provided by plants out-of-state, deepening the economic wound for New Jersey and its workers.
To put it more simply—if the New Jersey nuclear power plants shut down, the economic impact on the state and citizens would be greater than the cost to keep them operating. It’s cheaper to keep ‘em!
Local Union 94 is actively pursuing legislation to provide for a nuclear subsidy, in the same way that renewable energy is already subsidized, in efforts to keep our nuclear power plants open and serving the state of New Jersey with clean, dependable energy. We already have legislators, labor organizations, and additional companies working with us to achieve this necessary goal. Now, the power is in your hands. We urge you all to go to www.NJNeedsNuclear.com, and sign up for updates on current legislation and actionable items. Take a stand for workers, our state, and our world in demanding better economic conditions for our power plants.