Maine contractors fear labor agreement will shut them out of offshore wind work

Maine’s largest construction contractors say they fear being shut out of work in the state’s nascent offshore wind industry because of a pending labor agreement between the lead project developer and trade unions. That arrangement, called a project labor agreement, would set terms and conditions for employing workers from trade unions on the project. But more broadly, it could set a precedent for work and hiring rules for hundreds of future jobs that clean-energy advocates hope will emerge in offshore wind. But Vigue’s concerns may be overblown, according to Chris Wissemann, the chief executive of New England Aqua Ventus. Wissemann said project labor agreements, or PLAs, are individually negotiated and can be tailored to accommodate a range of work considerations. The final language of the PLA in question is still several months away, he said. Policymakers and politicians see them as a tool to encourage diversity and minority hiring in a growing sector. For unions, they create long-term demand for their members. Developers count on partnerships with unions to set up training programs that can provide a reliable supply of skilled workers. That helps close the so-called labor gap, Wissemann said, on big infrastructure projects that take years to complete.

Share This Article: