“Millions of Work Hours” Coming to Ohio Building Trades, Thanks to Shale
When was the last time you heard of an industry bringing millions – yes, millions – of work hours to an economically depressed area? Well, it’s happening in Ohio, thanks to shale.
This week, EID had the opportunity to tour the training facility of the Laborer’s International Union of North America (LiUNA) in Ohio and participate in a roundtable discussion with pipeline companies over best practices and training tools for oil and gas related work. At the roundtable we learned that LiUNA is one of several building trades that has benefitted from jobs created oil and gas industry. In fact, LiUNA has logged over 1 million work hours so far this year and is gearing up for an incredible 3 million work hours in 2016! And that’s only in pipeline construction, just one section of the oil and gas industry. Other trades, like the International Union of Operating Engineers and the United Association will see an incredible uptick in their work hours as well, thanks to the $8 billion in pipeline investment by the oil and gas industry
In addition, we learned that these trades have been working for almost all the major oil and gas companies in the state of Ohio, debunking a common myth perpetrated by anti-fracking activists that jobs are not coming to local communities. Remember this headline? Fracking, So where’s the economic boom that was promised? The Columbus Dispatch claimed in this January 2014 article that, “there has been little change in the underlying labor market… transient workers are among the most tangible signs of the shale ‘boom’”.
Really? That’s interesting because according to Ray Hipsher, Pipeline Specialist at the Ohio Laborers District Council, the laborers in Ohio have been working on projects for: American Energy Partners, Antero Resources, Chesapeake Energy, Columbia Gas, Dominion East Ohio, Duke Energy , East Ohio Gas , Eclipse Resources, Gulfport Energy,Kinder Morgan, MarkWest Energy Partners, Rice Energy, and Williams, just to name a few. LiUNA has 17,000 members statewide and they would like to continue this work and expand their operations into other projects as well. But don’t take our word for it. Take a look at some comments from the building trades regarding their work with the oil and gas industry:
“The Shale industry is hiring local workforce. That’s going to keep the money in the community and the laborers doing the work are going to take pride and care of the quality of their work, because we are your neighbors. We care about doing this pipeline work right and environmentally sound.”-Ray Hipsher, Ohio Laborers District Council
“We have experienced a staggering uptick in man hours out of this union hall. Over the past four years, approximately 600,000 man hours, per year, have been attributed to shale gas related work”- Butch Taylor, Business Manager for the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 396
Developing Trades to Support Shale Jobs
Shale energy is redefining and supporting middle class jobs, especially the building trades. According to a study by the Harvard Business School, “unconventional energy is perhaps the largest single opportunity to change American’s competitiveness and economic trajectory.” However, the study also cautioned that a skilled workforce is critical to support the “fully 50% of unconventional production jobs” which are “middle skills” jobs. “Middle skills” jobs are defined as those that require more education and training than a high school diploma or GED but less than a four-year college degree.
Minimal cost and no college education required
The building trades have embraced America’s energy renaissance by redefining their apprenticeship training centers to be catered specifically for the oil and gas industry, even providing a pathway for high school graduates to realize free training, while earning a livable wage. These programs also provide a pathway for veterans to re-enter the civilian workforce, utilizing skills from their time serving our country and maximizing those skills into areas that may be applicable for oil and gas related work.
Establishing a Standard of Safety and Environmental Care
When we think about the safety of the industry, we should consider that the same folks who build Ohio’s roads and bridges, are building the infrastructure to support oil and natural gas development through pipeline construction. EID reported on this topic a few months ago with an infographic- U.S. Oil and Gas Production: Safety and Support for American Families. Local 18, International Union of Operating Engineers provide the majority of work to construction and support the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) through construction and repair of the roads and bridges across the state. This same union, Local 18, is supporting millions in work hours to the oil and gas industry as well, and according to Primo Panzarello, safety is paramount.
“Our saying, our motto is ‘Safety is Our Target’. That is what we teach our people, everything they do is safety, safety,safety”. – Primo Panzarello, Local 18
During EID’s site visit at LiUNA’s training center, Bob Chatterson emphasized the importance of protecting the environment and echoed the recent comments made by one of the oil and gas companies working Ohio, MarkWest.
“…working in the oil and gas industry, being a nature lover, these two worlds co-exist because we have great technologies we have developed that are often over and above regulations to protect the environment. We try to leave the area we work in, in a better shape than we found it.”- Leanne Meyer, the Vice President of Environmental, Safety and Compliance for MarkWest Energy Partners
The overwhelming theme of the site visit was one of partnership to support Ohio local jobs. Bob Chatterson, Executive Director with the Laborers Training & Apprenticeship really summed it up when he said, “It’s gotta be a partnership. It’s a benefit to us all.”