Project labor agreements have been signed with the nation’s four leading building and construction trade unions.
The agreements reaffirm the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project’s commitment to hiring skilled union workers for the pipeline’s construction, according to officials.
The agreements were signed with the Laborers’ International Union of North America, Teamsters National Pipeline, the International Union of Operating Engineers and the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States, according to a press release.
Steve White, director of Affiliated Construction Trades, a division of the West Virginia State Building Trades, said the announcement reaffirms Dominion’s prior commitment to use skilled pipeline construction workers.
“Hundreds of local construction workers will benefit from the good-paying jobs and benefits,” White said. “And equally important, local communities should know the project is being built by the best, most professional pipeline workforce in the region,.
“This is a challenging project because of its size, the terrain, stream crossing, wetlands and other features. So having workers who know what they are doing is critical to a successful project.
“The contracts for other parts of the project, including metering and compressor stations, are with a different set of companies. But the largest portion of the project by far is the pipeline installation.”
Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC is comprised of four major U.S. energy companies — Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas and Southern Company Gas.
The joint-venture partners plan to build and own the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a proposed 600-mile underground natural gas transmission pipeline that will help meet the growing energy needs of public utilities in Virginia and North Carolina to generate cleaner electricity, heat homes and power local businesses.
“From day one, we’ve committed to building this project to the highest standards of quality and safety,” said Leslie Hartz, Dominion Energy’s vice president of engineering and construction. “These organizations represent the most highly skilled and well-trained professionals in the industry. They have the training, dedication and experience we need, and we’re proud to have them on board for this historic project.”
Under the agreements, the four trade unions will be responsible for hiring and training the 13,000 construction workers needed to build the pipeline. The unions have committed to hiring at least half of the construction workforce through local union membership in West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina.
Furthermore, the unions have committed to hiring at least 25 percent of all new hires — individuals joining the trade unions for the first time — from the local communities where the pipeline will be built.
“This is the biggest job-creating infrastructure project we’ve seen in our region for many decades,” said Dennis Martire, Laborers’ International Union of North America vice president and Mid-Atlantic regional manager. “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rebuild our region’s infrastructure and bring back the middle class jobs that have disappeared from too many of our communities. Our members live in these communities, so we have a personal stake in doing this the right way and with the utmost care for safety and the environment. We have the skills and the work ethic that it takes to build a project like this, and we’re just grateful for the opportunity to put those skills to work for our economy and our energy security.”
Rob Hinerman, business agent with the Operating Engineers, Local Union 132, based in Clarksburg, echoed those sentiments.
“The oil and gas industry has had a pretty good impact to the local economy for the last few years, but this will be the largest influx of jobs locally in years,” Hinerman said. “I think it will make a big impact. We’ve hired a lot of local workers in the past 7-8 years due to pipeline work and the construction trades for places like Sherwood. It will be very positive for this region.”
In addition to employing thousands of local tradesmen and craftsmen, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will provide opportunities for many local residents to pursue new careers in the construction industry. The trade unions are offering free local training and apprenticeship programs so local residents can develop new skills and gain real-world experience in the industry. After construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is complete, many will go on to pursue long-term careers in the building and construction trades.
Through their participation in the ‘Helmets to Hardhats’ program, the trade unions will also provide job opportunities to many local veterans. ‘Helmets to Hardhats’ is a national, nonprofit program that connects National Guard, Reserve, retired and transitioning active-duty military service members with skilled training and quality career opportunities in the construction industry.
“This project is going to be a game changer for working people in our region, including our veterans,” said Matt Yonka, president of the Virginia Building and Construction Trades Council. “We’re talking about thousands of new jobs for men and women who have spent their careers developing their craft and contributing to our economy. We’re also talking about hundreds, if not thousands of local residents, including our veterans, who will have the chance to start a new career and earn a better livelihood. We’re ready to get to work on this project so we can grow our economy and support our families.”
The four organizations signing the agreements represent the crafts and trades that will perform the bulk of mainline construction activity for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline:
— The laborers who install environmental control devices, perform ground clearing, coat and install the pipe and restore the right of way.
— The teamsters who transport personnel, materials and equipment.
— The operators who operate excavators, bull dozers, pipe bending and laying machines, cranes, forklifts and other construction equipment.
— The welders who weld and bend the pipe, install road bores and perform hydrostatic testing.