We’re Building A Strong Union by Charles Fogell

 In News, Newsletter: Summer 2020

A quick look back at the start of 2020 tells a story of accomplishment here at District Council 35. Many of our members have and continue to work on large projects since the start of the new year. We turned in record-setting work performances as a union last year, and we had set sail to capitalize on a significant number of hours in comparison to years past. We are working on towers, hotels, casinos, bridges and everything in between. We are bargaining new agreements and PLA’s along the way and plan on being even more aggressive for the remainder of the year.

We continue, as a union and a community, to battle the pandemic that has been put before us. Your leadership team has continued to do everything that it can to assist our members on being safe on the job. We have worked diligently to keep our members informed via social media, direct contact and the development of protocols to be followed in the workplace in conjunction with our employers. We still have much work to do to abolish this terrible disease, and I encourage each member to do what you can to protect yourself and your family and friends.

Training has always been at the forefront of our union and our membership. With increased opportunities and with an expanding membership here at District Council 35, we must continue to brighten our future and remain aggressively ahead of the demands on our policies and programs. Working with both labor and management trustees, we are looking out for our future and our day-to-day needs. Our training facilities are at capacity, and we are looking to enhance our position for future workforces through training expansion and facilities.

Politically, we are electing leaders for our country and our states that we have jurisdiction. Our political department is working tirelessly with our membership on races in our cities and abroad. Remain active and educated when you cast your ballots for federal and local leaders. As a union, we will be supporting those who have the working men and women of this area, our country, and our union first.

In Southeastern Massachusetts, we continue to struggle with the position of the gaming commission. Some say since Encore has opened, we might be at a saturation level for gaming, however, we were supposed to have a casino in Regions A, B and C. The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe continues its’ pursuit of placing 321 acres of land in trust in Taunton. The tribe has appealed a decision to deny before a federal judge, and we have recently seen signs of hope for the project. The parcel would provide the tribe with an opportunity to construct a billion dollar destination style resort casino. The gaming commission is also being targeted by The Notos Group and developer Tom O’Connell. Notos Group is looking for the commission to consider a 300 million dollar project in Wareham. The project doesn’t meet the spending threshold, but it would be an additional slot and horse racing venue. Naturally, we would be supportive if the gaming commission comes up with a favorable report.

Energy continues to be a hot button topic amongst all the trades throughout the South Shore area of the District Council. Currently the Pilgrim Nuclear Plant is under decommission status. Entergy has sold the plant to Holtec Decommissioning International, basically a dismantling outfit that oversees the trust fund that is established to shut the plant down. The Brayton Point power station is completely gone, and Commercial Development Corporation has tagged the project as the Brayton Point Commerce Center. The plan for that parcel is support for offshore wind. Deepwater ports will allow for shipment of towers and turbines and a laydown area with assembly facilities. There are also talks of transformer stations being on site. We hope to capture opportunities in the future at this site. Time will tell if renewable energy will meet the demands of the Northeast.

In Southeastern Massachusetts, we continue our talks with the developers and contractors of Vineyard Wind. We are currently discussing the terms of a potential project labor agreement that will cover work for our members both onshore and offshore. The development of wind farms can ultimately pick up some of the slack that has developed by closing power stations, and what we do on the scope of work here should help us in the future with both power and work opportunities for our members.