Union: Hundreds of WV Pipeline Jobs Going to Out of State Workers
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - It's estimated that $2 billion worth of pipeline construction will be done in West Virginia to assemble and process the natural gas from the boom in the state's Marcellus Shale drilling. But so far it seems mostly out-of-state contractors are doing the work.
Joe Bowen, organizer with the West Virginia Laborers District Council, is part of a protest at one job site in Harrison County.
"License plates from Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi. Out of 142 workers, there was like 12 of them from West Virginia."
In the past, gas industry representatives have questioned whether West Virginia has workers qualified for the highly-technical pipeline jobs. Bowen says the state's workers are probably better qualified, because of union apprenticeship and drug testing programs specifically for pipeline work.
"We train for specific skills in this pipeline industry. And I often question if a lot of these out-of-state workers either have the current drug cards and the training that our men have."
Bowen says there is a huge amount of this work to be done in the state, but it's exactly the kind of construction West Virginia's work force knows how to do and has a lot of experience with.
"This is just the beginning, and it's not only the pipeline, the processing plants and the compressor stations along with it."
No one from the Canadian contractor, Ledcor, returned a call requesting comment. According to a trade group, other pipeline projects have employed mostly in-state workers, but Bowen says they have seen the same pattern at other sites.