LIUNA Minnesota’s broad strategy for local hiring on large scale infrastructure projects has picked up momentum. For years, the Union has promoted the many benefits that local hiring provides to Minnesota’s economy. Simply stated, the economic benefits to Minnesota communities are far greater when large infrastructure projects are built by Minnesota contractors and workers.
North Star Policy Institute, a local think tank, recently found that greater use of local labor on upcoming wind farm projects could create hundreds of new job opportunities and $45 million in economic benefits for Southern Minnesota communities. The reason is simple: when work is outsourced, less money is reinvested into local economies. In addition, the highly skilled craftsmanship particularly from Union trained construction craft workers means there is a net gain in construction quality, productivity and safety.
Over the last year and a half, LIUNA has worked with Union Operating Engineers, Iron Workers and Millwrights to seek local hiring commitments on major wind farm projects. Their work is beginning to pay off as wind farm developer Tenaska recently agreed to local hire reporting, while the Minnesota Department of Commerce staff has recommended similar requirements for future wind projects. In both cases, expanded data reporting will help in evaluating the local economic impact and encourage investment in worker training through the Union apprenticeship programs.
In the coming years, Minnesota will need to vastly expand our public infrastructure to keep up with growing demand. Efforts by LIUNA and other Building Trades partners to participate in hearings, and meet with legislators, owners, contractors and other stakeholders to promote local hiring benefits on wind farm projects lays the foundation for success on future infrastructure projects in our state.