Advancing High Road Labor Standards in Transportation Electrification

March 1, 2021




We are excited to launch a new initiative that expands our work in transportation electrification.  With support from the Energy Foundation and the guidance of an esteemed Advisory Committee, Gridworks is embarking on a project to advance high road labor standards in transportation electrification.

This transportation electrification project began with a broad objective: to identify strategies to accelerate transportation electrification to achieve the state’s goals. To scope the project, we conducted a targeted listening tour with industry experts including state agencies, load serving entities, academics, environmental justice advocates, coalition builders, and the private sector.  We heard a wide range of considerations and suggestions on the opportunities for accelerating transportation electrification including:

  • Transportation electrification can be a key strategy for recovering from the economic impacts of the global pandemic;
  • There are many actors in the space and more can be done to encourage consistent, collective action;
  • Mobility, rather than vehicle conversions, is the issue we should be addressing since vehicle miles traveled must also be reduced to reach our climate goals;
  • Affordability and access to new technologies continue to be pressing issues and incentives for vehicles are not enough to get to the scale we need;
  • Advancing equity in the transition to electrified transportation requires a multi-pronged approach that considers community needs first. 

At the same time that we were listening, Governor Newsom signed Executive Order N-79-20 to establish the goal of 100% zero-emission passenger cars and trucks by 2035, and 100% zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles by 2045.  The Executive Order also calls for the development and implementation of a Just Transition Roadmap that will leverage an integrated approach to labor, workforce, and economic policy to provide a framework for California’s economic recovery.

We believe that robust stakeholder engagement is critical for the development and implementation of the Just Transition Roadmap and the success of the Governor’s Executive Order. In our first project meeting, our Advisory Committee highlighted how the momentum from the Executive Order, combined with the urgency to stimulate and accelerate economic recovery, present an opportunity to bring together partners and build up capacity to advance high road labor standards in transportation electrification. 

Key questions we’ll be exploring and discussing through our initiative include:

  • How is a “high road labor standard” defined?  
  • What are the key concepts that need to be embedded within those standards?
  • How would standards differ across vehicle manufacturing, battery supply chain management, charging infrastructure construction, and driving and maintaining vehicles? 
  • What are the steps necessary to ensure that public funds authorized to electrify transportation are also resulting in good, high road jobs with family-sustaining wages?
  • Overall, what are the benefits of high road labor standards in transportation electrification? And are there drawbacks to be considered?

Moving forward, we will continue working with leaders in the industry, listening to their perspectives and priorities, learning from their experiences, and co-developing recommendations. We will build and strengthen relationships with our Advisory Committee, and amplify the good work already happening in this space. We look forward to building our capacity on the issues and we are grateful for the guidance and trust of our Advisory Committee. 

Anyone interested in following along can check for updates on our new Labor Standards for Transportation Electrification page.

Post by Deborah Shields