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Union labor is the backbone of energy delivery

In education, transportation, manufacturing and many other industries, organized labor has shaped our world and how it works today. May 1 is International Workers’ Day, also known as May Day, a day to celebrate unions and the rights of workers around the world.  

In the energy industry, collaboration between companies and labor unions plays a vital role in ensuring safe and efficient energy generation and distribution. This partnership is built on negotiations, relationship building and clear communication, with the shared goal of meeting the needs of both workers and the company. 

When energy companies conduct day-to-day operations or transition toward new energy sources, they rely on union labor. Together, they identify where unions fit into their work and collaborate to ensure jobs are filled with skilled workers. 

One of the key aspects of this partnership is providing new training and safety programs to help the workforce evolve along with energy companies. Whether it’s internal training or partnering with community colleges, companies and unions work together to guide learning and improve the quality of work.  

Union labor fills a variety of roles in the energy sector, including technicians for wind, electric lines, gas, engineering, solar and battery, and customer service representatives. People in these positions support energy systems, ensure reliability and work directly with customers. They’re often the face of the organization.  

With this in mind, companies offer apprenticeships to further develop their skilled workforce, providing free education, full-time wages and benefits as workers learn. Apprenticeships typically last three to four years and include internal, external and on-the-job training. These programs help workers gain valuable skills in construction and maintenance, preparing them for careers in the energy sector. 

As technology and industry standards evolve, companies and unions collaborate to keep apprenticeship programs relevant and up to date. They provide continuous learning opportunities, offer qualifications and certifications and ensure workers have the skills to succeed.  

Alliant Energy has a strong history of partnering with local labor on our projects to maximize the positive economic benefits for Wisconsin communities. At our Wisconsin solar projects, we relied heavily on local contractors and the skilled craftsmanship of workers hired through local union halls including carpenters, laborers, operating engineers and electricians. 

The partnership between energy companies and labor unions is essential for the energy sector's success. Together, we ensure work is done safely, efficiently and sustainably, while providing opportunities for workers to advance their careers and contribute to the growth of the industry.  

This International Workers’ Day, let’s celebrate this partnership and the valuable contributions of union labor in serving customers and building stronger communities.  
Grant Barton is a Communications Partner with a passion for sustainability and eco-friendly city planning. He has a diverse background in engineering, politics and international communications and hopes to apply this experience when writing and breaking down complex topics related to Alliant Energy's Clean Energy Future plans.

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