US Building Trades Union and Vineyard Wind sign labour agreement for industrial-scale offshore wind project

Vineyard Wind and the Southeastern Massachusetts Building Trades Council have held a signing ceremony to commemorate the first project labour agreement for an industrial-scale offshore wind project in the United States.
US Building Trades Union and Vineyard Wind sign labour agreement for industrial-scale offshore wind project
Courtesy of NREL.

Vineyard Wind 1 is an 800 MW project located 15 miles off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard and will be the first commercial-scale offshore wind project in the United States.  The project will generate electricity for more than 400,000 homes and businesses in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and will create 3,600 Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) job-years over the life of the project in various disciplines and industries, including the more than 500 union construction jobs covered by the recently announced pact.

Around 500 union jobs created through the agreement will also help to create a vital, sustainable energy source that will provide power to more than 400,000 homes and businesses in Massachusetts, save ratepayers $1.4 billion over the first 20 years of operation and that is expected to reduce carbon emissions by more than 1.6 million tons per year, the equivalent of taking 325,000 cars off the road annually.

“The signing of this PLA is the culmination of our long-standing promise to the working people of Massachusetts” said Vineyard Wind CEO Lars T. Pedersen.  “We now have an agreement in place that will make sure local residents on the South Coast, Cape and Islands, can reap the greatest possible benefit from this new and growing industry. And beyond that, it’s a commitment to make sure we have a diversified workforce that represents the communities where we work, so that we can open the doors of opportunity as wide as possible.”

Frank Callahan,  President of Massachusetts Building Trades Council, added that the signing of the Project Labour Agreement sets the standard for offshore wind and other renewable energy projects across the country.

The Southeastern Massachusetts Building Trades Council represents thousands of workers throughout the South Coast, Cape Cod and Islands.

Project labour agreements are widely used in both the private and public sectors to ensure the timely delivery of high-quality construction projects. They help ensure access for project managers and developers to the highest-skilled and best-trained workforces in the region. American construction unions invest more than a billion dollars in training each year. In Massachusetts, apprentice training has also been an engine for diversity, equity and inclusion. Massachusetts building trades union training programmes train more than 93 percent of all women apprentices and 86 percent of all apprentices of colour in the state.

Project labour agreements also help to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion on the jobsite through investments in recruitment and pre-apprenticeship programs that create career pathways into the building trades for underserved communities.

Through the agreement between the unions and Vineyard Wind, $500,000 will be allocated to a special fund designed to bolster pre-apprenticeship and recruitment programmes such as “Building Pathways South” which will create opportunities for low-income residents, particularly in underserved communities, to both work on the Vineyard Wind project and to achieve family-sustaining careers in the union construction industry.

The terms of the agreement will ensure that a majority of the workforce be from local communities, specifically from Bristol, Plymouth, Barnstable, and Dukes Counties, in addition to setting concrete hiring targets for women and people of colour. 

Project labour agreements establish the terms and conditions of employment on projects to ensure workers and the community benefit from safe, family-sustaining career opportunities in the construction field.

Through this agreement, Vineyard Wind has also pledged to appoint an Accountability Officer to facilitate an Access and Opportunity Committee and to ensure that contractors are meeting hiring requirements in addition to promoting an inclusive workplace.

“This agreement is another victory for the growing offshore wind industry in the United States as we develop projects and create thousands of good-paying union jobs” said Heather Zichal, CEO American Clean Power Association. “As part of the Biden administration’s goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030, Vineyard Wind is the first utility-scale offshore wind farm in the country, and this agreement will create employment opportunities across the region. With programmes to hire women and residents in underserved communities, unions play a key role in preparing the highly skilled labour force our growing industry needs. As our country continues to recover from the pandemic, projects like this will help deliver vast amounts of clean energy and boost job growth across the country.”

The PLA signing ceremony was held at the Marine Commerce Terminal in New Bedford. The turbines will be dispatched from that Terminal for installation by the building trades union members.

Since 2017, the Vineyard Wind 1 project has been through an unprecedented and extensive public review process that generated more than 30,000 public comments, more than 90 percent of which supported the project. 

The Construction and Operations Plan (COP) was reviewed by more than two dozen federal, state, and local agencies over the course of more than three and a half years.

Vineyard Wind will reach a financial close in the second half of 2021 and begin delivering clean energy to Massachusetts in 2023.

For additional information:

Vineyard Wind

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