“We’re on a good plan for transition. You put that in place with the M.O.R.E. Work Investment Fund. It’s dollars well allocated for our future.”
Amedeo Testa, Secretary General of the Italian Federation of Electrical Utility Workers, addresses the 2023 CSO conference.
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Construction Sector leaders gathered for the annual CSO conference in Marco Island, Florida, Feb. 26 to March 2. Members discussed developments within Construction Sector Operations, heard about the health of the union and made connections with contractors.
International President Newton B. Jones opened the conference with welcome news. “The organization is very, very healthy,” he said. “Even though we have had a deficit in man-hours from years ago, we still see some growth. And down the road, we see a lot of growth.” He said man-hours are expected to increase as work in hydrogen production, small modular reactors and CCUS ramp up.
He also touted the success of the M.O.R.E. Work Investment Fund and how it’s helped the union transition as coal-fired units are shut down. And as the union moves into the future, he called on CSO leaders to bring more workers into the Boilermakers, stressing that the union will need as many Boilermakers as possible with the influx of anticipated work.
“We’re going to have to really get focused on craftsperson development,” IP Jones said. “We need to take people into our locals and put people to work and build this organization. There’s a lot of good that’s developing at this stage.”
In closing, IP Jones said the union is on good footing for the future. “We’re on a good plan for transition. You put that in place with the M.O.R.E. Work Investment Fund. It’s dollars well allocated for our future.”
Members heard additional information about the M.O.R.E. Work program beginning with IVP-SE and ED-CSO Tim Simmons discussing the M.O.R.E. Work Job Targeting program. He pointed to the steep decline of coal-fired units and that the U.S. Beyond Coal campaign has helped shutter 66% of domestic plants.
“They found we didn’t have enough to continue powering, so they had to back off,” Simmons said, noting that Beyond Coal has a goal of all homes being carbon neutral. “We used to call those ‘mud huts,’” he quipped.
He said the M.O.R.E. Work program has not only helped the union keep what it has but has expanded the Boilermaker footprint across industries. Through the program, Boilermakers have recovered over $43 million in wages as employers bid work for jobs on job sites where union members haven’t worked for months or years.
“Not only are we paying money out of the M.O.R.E. Work program, but we’re also getting money back,” Simmons said. “This is not a savings account. This is an account to gain ground every day.”
And because work will continue to grow, he said members need to bring in more union members to do the work.
“It is the obligation of every union member to bring in at least two people. One to replace you and one to grow the union. And if you stop at two, shame on you.”
“It is the obligation of every union member to bring in at least two people,” Simmons said. “One to replace you and one to grow the union. And if you stop at two, shame on you.”
Simmons noted there’s an online application ready to go, so that members can sign workers up on the job site. Lodges need a Bank of Labor checking account to participate.
“This is the first time in the history of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers that you’re able to join this organization without a pen and paper,” he said. “It is a tool that makes sure you can get people signed up immediately.”
In addition, CSO has developed an online business manager portal—a “one-stop shop” for agreements, TWIC card/MSHA reimbursements, new project listings and more.
Director of the National Transient Division Lodge Danny Watson reviewed the M.O.R.E. Work Recovery Agreement between the NTDL and NACBE. The agreement has nationwide scope and is designed to assist the union in getting more work in U.S. facilities where Boilermakers have performed a de minimis amount of work in the previous 60 months prior to bidding on work. Since its inception, the union has gained an additional 124,947 man-hours.
On M.O.R.E. Work program state legislative gains, National Coordinator of State Legislative Affairs Martin Williams gave a rundown on bills moving through state legislatures and what states the union is eying for the future.
“Hazardous bills have brought a lot of man-hours in California, Washington State and New Jersey,” Williams said.
And introducing and shepherding those bills, which require workers to graduate from a state-approved apprenticeship program, is a way to make job sites safer and increase man-hours for Boilermakers.
In U.S. national legislation, Director of Government Affairs Cecile Conroy said there’s a lot of money for energy jobs in the bills that passed Congress last year. In the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, funding is earmarked for CCUS, direct air capture, hydrogen and large-scale demonstration projects.
“There is $6 billion in funding for advanced nuclear development and $12.1 billion for CCUS, including large-scale pilot and demonstration projects.”
She noted that the Department of Energy is “moving as fast as humanly possible to get these funds out the door.” Which is good news for Boilermakers.
Director of National Training Services Jeff Hughes gave an update on the Boot Camp program. He said there have been 215,000 hours of training provided since the program’s inception in 2018, with over 1,000 people completing boot camp. The current weld testing pass rate with signatory contractors is nearly 91%.
BNAP Coordinator Mark Wertz said the apprenticeship program is working on LMS 3.0. He also said BNAP snagged a grant for Energy Efficiency and Clean Technology Training and encouraged lodges to look for grant opportunities.
International Vice President of Canada - Arnie Stadnick discussed national training in Canada, including a new pressure welding program where the Boilermakers received a $6.2 million grant over five years to train more people. He also pointed to Canadian Boilermakers’ training on mental health awareness and outreach with 800 members educated to date in Healthy Mind. There are 14 trainers across Canada teaching suicide prevention, mental health first aid and opiate awareness.
Also speaking were IVP-NE John Fultz giving an overview of the Boilermakers National Funds, Director of Health and Safety Services Mark Garrett, Director of Communications Amy Wiser, Director of the Boilermaker History Preservation Department Dave Stewart, International Director of Climate Change Policy Solutions Cory Channon and Marketing Manager Johnny Baca.
Guest speakers at this year’s CSO included three employees of Babcock & Wilcox. Sr. VP of Clean Energy Joe Buckler, Sr. VP of Thermal Chris Riker and VP and GM Michael Hidas, shared statistics and information on their working relationship with the Boilermakers and also outlined their new generation of energy production: ClimateBrightTM.
“We have $1.2 million in M.O.RE. [Work program] funds for projects we might not have bid before,” Hidas said, praising the impact of the M.O.R.E. Work Investment Fund. “The M.O.R.E. [Work program] dollars brought in 224,000 man-hours, which we did not have in our forecast. We’ve come to rely on the M.O.R.E. [Work program] Fund, and we think there are still a lot more opportunities.”
Riker, who works in the thermal side of B&W said while thermal is flat, it is still a piece of the company’s energy portfolio with 50% of B&W revenue coming from thermal. B&W even purchased two fossil businesses recently. Riker said it’s important to meet the global need for carbon reduction with patented, renewable waste-to-energy, biomass, hydrogen production, solar and carbon capture solutions.
“We need you,” he said. “It’s incredibly important that we stay in this market.”
Buckler introduced the ClimateBright™ Technology suite, which includes new technologies such as green steam, long duration energy storage and direct air capture. He also discussed different kinds of feedstock, such as waste, to fuel a new energy generation.
He said B&W is at the forefront of developing CO2 capturing technologies and that the company has 93 patents related to carbon capture, positioning them to provide critical solutions to meet global climate goals.
Other guest speakers included NACBE Executive Director Ron Traxler; Amedeo Testa, Secretary General of the Italian Federation of Electrical Utility Workers; President of the AFL-CIO Metal Trades Department James Hart; Robbie Hunter, President Emeritus of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California; Ed Smith, Ullico President and CEO; Walt Ingram, President and CEO, Union Sportsmen Alliance and Rick Gerasta, Sr. VP of Segal Consulting.