Appalachian Basin

Utica Shale Supports Millions in Wages for Building Trades in Ohio

In Ohio, and specifically in Youngstown, unions are a big deal. The steel industry, General Motors, and manufacturing have long been heralded as the backbone of the Mahoning Valley. Prior to 2008, the Youngstown area was in a great deal of hurt thanks to a weak economy and jobs being consistently shipped overseas. In 2010, however, that story started changing in a big way thanks to American energy development in Ohio’s Utica Shale. In fact, as some have reported, “Youngstown, Ohio is a city changed by fracking.”

Ohio is a great example of how education and training yield real jobs and, most importantly, livable wages.  Union hall members are going back to work, filling their coffers with new money for apprenticeship programs, and specialized training  for new skills that are tailored to the oil and gas industry. Labor groups like Laborers’ International Union (LIUNA), the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters (UA), and the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), just to name a few, have been big winners in jobs supported by Utica Shale.

In fact, even state and federal agencies have invested in training to help provide Ohioans the tools they need to see local workers become gainfully employed with Utica shale development. So often people think that these jobs are only on a well pad or part of the actual drilling process, when in fact we have seen a dramatic rise in manufacturing of steel pipe and new fabrication shops opening and expanding throughout Eastern and Southeastern Ohio.  For example, take a look at Evets Oil & Gas in the Youngstown area, or Pioneer Pipe in Marietta, Ohio — two examples of job creators in Ohio that directly support Utica shale development and offer employment to the building trades.

But let’s talk numbers: how much money are these workers really making?

As Butch Taylor, Business Manager for the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 396 in the Mahoning Valley, recently told EID, “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”.  That’s $64 million additional wages to the Youngstown region! On average, a UA member working overtime on these projects over the past four years saw an increase of approximately $30,000 per year to their pocketbooks, thanks to an increase in overtime pay.

The stories we often read about “fracking” suggest there are some economic gains, but always with questions about alleged environmental costs. But here in the real world, people’s families depend on the good jobs that shale development is delivering. Clearly, this is an economic opportunity worth supporting.

Perhaps this explains why voters continue to reject the anti-fracking “Community Bill of Rights” measure in Youngstown.


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