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Union: Wind projects bypass local ironworkers

"They made a lot of promises about how this is going to bring local jobs to local people ... We thought they would be fair and equitable to the people of New Hampshire,'' Cleary said.

A labor union complained Wednesday that large wind-power projects in northern Vermont and New Hampshire are bypassing local ironworkers, bringing in out-of-state crews, and undermining the projects' hoped-for benefits for the local economies.

Ironworkers Local 7 leveled criticism at developers of a 16-turbine, $90 million project in Sheffield and a 33-turbine project in Dummer, N.H., and four neighboring unincorporated areas of Coos County.

"That's not economic development. That's not in the state's best interest,'' said Michael Morelli, Vermont business agent and industry analyst with Ironworkers Local 7, in citing two factors used by state regulators in approving a project.

Shawn Cleary, Local 7's business agent in New Hampshire, expressed similar disappointment.

"They made a lot of promises about how this is going to bring local jobs to local people ... We thought they would be fair and equitable to the people of New Hampshire,'' Cleary said.

Boston-based First Wind is developing the Vermont project; Brookfield Renewable Power Inc., based in Toronto, Ontario, is developing the project in New Hampshire. RMT, based in Madison, Wis., is the... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

A labor union complained Wednesday that large wind-power projects in northern Vermont and New Hampshire are bypassing local ironworkers, bringing in out-of-state crews, and undermining the projects' hoped-for benefits for the local economies.

Ironworkers Local 7 leveled criticism at developers of a 16-turbine, $90 million project in Sheffield and a 33-turbine project in Dummer, N.H., and four neighboring unincorporated areas of Coos County.

"That's not economic development. That's not in the state's best interest,'' said Michael Morelli, Vermont business agent and industry analyst with Ironworkers Local 7, in citing two factors used by state regulators in approving a project.

Shawn Cleary, Local 7's business agent in New Hampshire, expressed similar disappointment.

"They made a lot of promises about how this is going to bring local jobs to local people ... We thought they would be fair and equitable to the people of New Hampshire,'' Cleary said.

Boston-based First Wind is developing the Vermont project; Brookfield Renewable Power Inc., based in Toronto, Ontario, is developing the project in New Hampshire. RMT, based in Madison, Wis., is the general contractor for both.

First Wind spokesman John Lamontagne said his company hired RMT because of its expertise and track record. He said the company has worked on several other projects for First Wind. He said the company also hired several Vermont-based subcontractors for parts of the project including building roads and tower sites and their concrete foundations.

Brookfield had no immediate comment Wednesday.

RMT spokeswoman Barbara Robins said the company uses local subcontractors to do the less specialized parts of a wind power project, but when it comes to putting up towers more than 400 feet tall and attaching turbines to them, that requires people with extra training.

"When it comes to some of this higher-end work, we do bring people from out-of-state. It's very specialized and technical,'' she said.

Cleary said the union suggested RMT might want to bring in its own people to do 25 percent of the work to keep its "comfort level'' about having experienced people on the job, with 75 percent going to local hires. But "we were willing to talk to them about any type of agreement.''

He added, "They told me it's too early to make a decision. It's too early to make a decision. Then as of the last communication it was too late - the decision had already been made.''

Morelli said his union members effectively had been blocked from working on the project because RMT is bringing in a crew from Utah to do the work. Morelli said he hoped the company's decision could be changed as the project progresses.


Source: http://articles.boston.com/...

MAY 18 2011
https://www.windaction.org/posts/30921-union-wind-projects-bypass-local-ironworkers
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