Union-sponsored campaign highlights use of out-of-state workers, loss of local job opportunities on 200 MW EDF Red Pine Wind project near Marshall, MN
St. Paul, Minnesota. (August 17, 2017) – Construction union leaders announced today the start of a radio advertising campaign to urge the developers of renewable energy projects to commit to the creation of high-quality jobs for Minnesota workers.
The organizations, which represent tens of thousands of skilled construction workers statewide, are critical of developer EDF Renewable Energy for betraying local workers by hiring a general contractor that apparently relies heavily on out-of-state workers to build Red Pine Wind, a 200 MW windfarm that is currently under construction west of Marshall, MN.
The lack of opportunities for skilled locals does not sit well with Southwest Minnesota construction workers who are unemployed or commuting long distances to find work, especially those who have wind industry experience and were hoping to get a chance to help build Red Pine. The unions have responded by launching a radio campaign that is hitting the airwaves in Marshall, Worthington and other area communities.
“Our members have had enough,” according to Stacey Karels, President of the Mankato Building Trades, which represents construction workers across Southwest Minnesota. “The public needs to understand that skilled workers are losing the chance to put food on the table or tuck their kids into bed at night. And for what? So an energy company can boost profits?”
“It would be bad enough if it were just our members,” continues Karels. “But we’re also talking about the potential for millions of dollars in lost wages that could have boosted local economies in Florence and Pipestone and Lake Benton.
The unions say that there are skilled workers with wind farm experience in Southwest Minnesota who would have been happy to work on the project.
“I spent six months building Prairie Rose Windfarm,” said Garritt, who lives in Pipestone, MN and is featured on one of the radio spots. “We had many local workers there. At Red Pine, the license plates in the parking lot say it all: California, Oregon and Texas”.
The unions hope that by raising their voices in unison on the radio they will encourage developers to prioritize local hiring on future projects.
“Every developer comes to town promising to create jobs, but Minnesotans are starting to read the fine print,” says Ryan who lives in Worthington and is also featured.
“I always thought wind energy was a good thing for Southwest Minnesota, but I won’t support another project unless I know that they’re serious about putting our local people to work.”
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