July 3, 2008

Union protests against contractor’s hiring practices

When state and local funds help expand your business is it too much to ask that local workers receive the jobs? Local 150 of the International Union of Operating Engineers believes that to be self-evident.

In the heart of the wind belt, Fort Madison offers Siemens a helping hand in achieving their goal of cornering the wind power market, not only affording them a location central to their transportation needs, but giving them an incentive package worth approximately $ 5 million to assist them in their growth and keep them satisfied.

That package in itself is a gorgeous thing. Couple that with the almost $5 million that the Iowa Economic Development Board ponied up, and you have yourself something extraordinary.

However, Local 150 feels a bit slighted, and for the last two weeks has been picketing Corporate Contractors Inc. (CCI), a general contracting company based in Beloit, Wisc., that is in charge of the Siemens expansion.

“We want local contractors working on this project,” said Local 150 Business Representative Ryan Drew. “This is a great local project that has an estimated cost of $33 million. And about $10 million of that is funded by city, county and state incentives.”

The current Siemens expansion project is expected to foster upwards of 287 jobs from a 75,000 square foot expansion of their already 311,000 square foot facility. In addition to adding on, Siemens plans to build a new 125,000 square foot facility and a rail yard to better equip itself in the production and transportation of its wind turbine blades. The project is slated for completion by October of this year.

Drew said that with Siemens hiring CCI there are but a few local workers getting paid from the project. Meaning that few of those dollars get spent in Lee County.

Calls made to CCI’s corporate office were not returned as of press time today.

“I believe they have four local electricians working in there and a few local plumbers,” Drew said. “But we would like to see local general contractors and sub-contractors landing these local jobs.”

Drew added that these construction jobs are work that can’t be outsourced because they are in our own backyard… they can’t possibly be sent overseas.

“Local money is helping fund this project – they should be using local operators,” he said. “If the work is done by a local worker statistics show that that money goes around seven times within the community… if that money goes to Wisconsin we won’t see any of it here.”

Drew said that last year the Local 150 Union provided Siemens with a list of local contractors who could be used in future projects.

“We wanted to let them know who the area contractors are so they could use them,” he said. “There will be a significant amount of work done on this rail yard as well. We’d like to see some local operators and workers in there.”

Drew stated that out of the six contractors they currently have working on the project, only three of them are registered to do work in the state of Iowa.

Brennan Umthun/Staff Writer

Fort Madison Daily Democrat

3 July 2008

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2008/07/03/union-protests-against-contractors-hiring-practices/