When the locals in Vermont and northern New Hampshire were being romanced by large corporations to allow wind projects and their unsightly towers to be installed on our northern ridges, the PR men from the heavily subsidized “green” companies seduced us and our tradesmen with promises of many well-paying jobs in the construction of the four-armed behemoths. The reality is considerably different from the promises.
Ironworkers Local 7 leveled criticism at developers of the 16-turbine, $90 million project in Sheffield and a 33-turbine project in Dummer, N.H. A labor union complained Wednesday that large wind-power projects in northern Vermont and New Hampshire are bypassing local iron workers, bringing in out-of-state crews and undermining the projects’ hoped-for benefits for the local economies. Michael Morelli, Vermont business agent and industry analyst with Ironworkers Local 7, said, “”That’s not economic development. That’s not in the state’s best interest. 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 [our people].”
So much for promises and our gullible expectations. During Vermont Public Service Board hearings on the Sheffield project, an economist hired by First Wind, the corporate giant handling the project, told the board the project would likely generate 83 jobs during the construction phase. John Lamontagne, a PR flack for First Wind, said that as of Wednesday this week, more than 100 people were working on the project, and that number was expected to peak at 160 to 170 before the work is completed later this year. Right now, there are only two local hires out of the 100 workers. One is a security guard; the other’s job escaped Lamontagne’s memory when we talked to him. Lamontagne said his company had to hire much more experienced iron workers from Utah because Vermonter iron workers don’t really know how to do the high level jobs. He dittoed the policies of several other non-local-hiring corporations on other windmill projects.
Here’s what else he had to say when he, by accident, copied one of our reporters on a supposed-to-be private e-mail to another huckster, “Not sure if you saw the story, today [the union complaints cited above]. A local rag is now picking it up. Wants to talk to you. Her e-mail is…….”
When our reporter challenged Lamontagne on his professed disdain for locals, he apologized. We suspect for fear of being outed.
Here, then, is how the big shots from the big city corporations really feel about us “locals.” The local paper is “a rag.” The local tradesmen are incompetent in jobs that require a high level of skill. The promises of good jobs and a local economic boost were insincere sales pitches, or worse, intentional deceptions. And the level of corporate respect for the “locals” is somewhere between little and none.
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