“Pipelines Mean Jobs”: Leading Labor Unions Urge Elected Officials to Support Energy Jobs & Infrastructure

In a recent Pittsburgh Tribune-Review letter titled Pipelines Mean Jobs,” Jim Kunz – business manager of Local Union 66, International Union of Operating Engineers – highlights the critical importance of expanding natural gas infrastructure:

“I know we could increase that [pipeline] capacity if activists would stop trying to shut down pipeline development, either by pushing citywide bans on natural gas, asking for new regulations, or by suing over and over again to keep a project from moving forward. Your story should be a call to action for lawmakers to provide the pipeline capacity we need to get these wells running so we can get people working.”

Our building, construction and labor trades – among the region’s most dedicated, hard-working and skilled folks – want and deserve more opportunities to do what they do best: safely develop critical infrastructure that’s moving Pennsylvania’s and the nation’s economy forward.

And they’re doing just that.

As more natural gas is responsibly produced and utilized to generate power and manufacture petrochemicals, labor unions are realizing “tremendous amount of hours available to work – and the paychecks are big,” according to Tom Durkin, president of Local 66, International Union of Operating Engineers.

Under the headlineOperating Engineers See No Shortage of Work,” Mr. Durkin tells the Youngstown Business Journal this week that energy-related workforce demands are creating “the long line of young applicants waiting to join the already bursting union apprenticeship program.”

“We have more individuals applying for apprenticeships than we’ve ever had,” he says. “We’ve never had this many trainees.”

This is the good news. However, as Mr. Kunz makes clear, some politicians want to deny these job-creating benefits and opportunities from our region’s building and construction trades.

For example, some elected officials – including New York Gov. Cuomo himself – want to stop the construction of the $1 billion Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) pipeline project (among others), which alone will generate ~$327 million in regional economic activity. The project will also support 3,186 jobs during construction, resulting in an estimated $234 million in labor income.

In response to this misguided and politicized opposition to energy infrastructure and union jobs, The Laborers’ International Union of North America wrote a letter last week to New York’s congressional delegation, “rebuking” their obstruction.

LIUNA’s General President Terry O’Sullivan writes:

Opposing natural gas and projects like this will lead to fewer middle-class jobs, higher energy process for those who can least afford them, more environmental degradation, and a further schism between Congressional Democrats and the workers who are trying to provide for their families and their futures.”

American voters across the political spectrum agree. A recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce poll found that an overwhelmingly 79% of American voters support “streamlining or expediting the permitting process to improve, modernize, or construct critical energy infrastructure.”

President Trump – with the strong support of the nation’s largest labor unions and manufacturing voices – is taking action to help ensure our pipelines can be safely and efficiently built.

Because, as the president New York State Building and Construction Trades Council writes in a recent op-ed, “We need the NESE pipeline.” And many others.

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