Construction Sector addresses industry issues

CSO EXEC. DIR. KYLE EVENSON leads a session on the MBDS system.

IP Jones stresses push for new markets

BOILERMAKERS ENGAGED IN field construction gathered at Marco Island, Fla., Feb. 28-Mar. 3 for the annual conference on industry issues. The event offered business managers, International officers and International staff an opportunity to jointly review developments that impact the sector.

Business partners from the National Association of Construction Boilermakers (NACBE) hosted their own meeting concurrently with the Boilermaker event, and the two groups jointly participated in various sessions and side activities.

International President Newton B. Jones welcomed participants and provided an overview of the industry. He told the gathering, “We have a full plate of challenges today in this country and in this organization.”

Chief among those challenges, he said, is the Obama administration’s aggressive regulatory agenda against coal. He said EPA rules have been devastating to Boilermakers, Mine Workers and utilities but will have virtually no impact on global warming.

“The administration has done nothing but harm lives and the economy so he can have a legacy [for doing something about climate change],” Jones said.

Jones urged local lodge leaders to seek out new markets for Boilermakers to expand the work options available to members. “It’s not just the utilities or refineries or the paper mills. It’s the mines. It’s anything that will employ the Boilermakers. We collectively are going to have to do whatever it takes to make inroads into those places where we have not been.”

CSO Executive Director Kyle Evenson coordinated and led the conference.

Guest speakers included attorney Gene Trisko; Mario Arca, President of the International Trade Union Cooperation Institute of the CISL (ISCOS); Jeff “Odie” Espenship, former Navy pilot and leadership consultant (sponsored by NACBE); and Unifor (Canada’s largest private sector union) National President Jerry Dias.

International Vice President Joe Maloney also spoke on work opportunities and initiatives in Canada.

Conference presenters covered a range of other topics, such as political and legislative developments, the performance and status of national funds, Bank of Labor, International policies, safety and the NACBE safety awards, MOST (Mobilization, Optimization, Stabilization and Training) initiatives and apprenticeship.

Trisko assesses Clean Power Plan stay

ATTORNEY GENE TRISKO addressed the conference on the status of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), which targets carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal-fired power plants. The plan has come under fire by unions, energy companies, state governments and other groups, because it would force many coal-fired power plants and coal mines to close and because it interferes with states’ rights.

On Feb. 9, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay request filed by a coalition of groups, including the Boilermakers union. The stay essentially freezes implementation of the plan until the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia can rule on a lawsuit filed against the EPA over the regulation.

Trisko described the devastating impact the plan would have on the energy industry and jobs. He also explained the legal process leading up to the stay and explained how the ongoing legal action may unfold.

“What we are looking at here is a reduction of one half of U.S. coal-based electric generation capacity, which historically has provided about 50 percent of total load,” he said. “So we’re talking about cutting this fleet in half by the year 2030. That is what is at stake in this litigation; it is why the Boilermakers, the Mine Workers and the IBEW are before the court of appeals today, urging the court to reverse and remand this rule.”

Trisko cited a report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) that examined the CPP’s likely impact if implemented. “The CPP will result in a loss of tens of thousands of jobs in the utility, mining and energy-intensive industries . . .” He added, “…While EPA is fond of saying that this rule would create jobs in the long run, the fact is the kind of jobs that it would create are not consistent with maintaining, much less building, the middle class in which the country can afford to send its kids to college. It is in short an antiunion rule.”

The next step in the lawsuit seeking to stop the plan is oral arguments before the full D.C. Circuit Court. Those arguments are scheduled for Sep. 27. Trisko said that more than 150 petitioning parties, including 27 states, have sued the EPA over the proposed regulation.

Conference marks leadership changes

THE CONFERENCE ACKNOWLEGED several position changes impacting the union and Construction Sector. MOST Administrator Roger Erickson has retired, and Dale “Skipper” Branscum, Director of the Construction Division, has assumed that job. CSO Assistant Director Marty Stanton will take over Branscum’s former duties.

On the contractor side, Greg Purdon stepped down as NACBE president, with Scean Cherry assuming that position.

Meanwhile, Fred Meyers, Executive Director of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, has accepted a position as Marketing Vice President with Bank of Labor. Terry Stapleton, AFL-CIO, will serve as the USA’s interim Executive Director.