LEAP DELEGATES FROM across the United States brought Boilermaker issues to Capitol Hill April 15-17, scoring valuable face time in lawmakers’ offices. This year, in addition to leave-behind fact sheets, delegates presented a video brochure containing the film “CCS: Bridge to a Cleaner Energy Future,” which explains the urgent need for increased funding for the development of carbon, capture, use and storage (CCUS). The video, which automatically plays when the brochure is opened, proved popular on the Hill.
IVP-NE John Fultz emphasized to delegates in the speech he delivered the first day of LEAP that, “Your voice on Capitol Hill matters. And while even one voice might be mighty, take courage knowing that your voice is magnified by the Boilermaker brothers and sisters in this room. What we are doing today is the culmination of more than a century of hard-earned labor protections we must continue to fight for, preserve and build upon.”
Delegates visiting Capitol Hill sought action from lawmakers in four major areas:
- A balanced energy policy that supports the research and development of carbon capture use and storage.
- Providing more equitable outcomes to working families in NAFTA 2.0, not more profits for multinational corporations.
- The preservation of the Jones Act (a law designed to protect domestic shipbuilding).
- Pension security and the repeal of the onerous healthcare Cadillac Tax.
A contingent of three Local 627 (Phoenix) delegates took to the Senate on Monday to visit the offices of Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), as well as others.
In their first stop of the day they spoke with Sylvia Lee, a policy advisor to Sen. Sinema, to discuss state issues affecting Boilermakers and advocate for increasing work in power plants across Arizona, where some plants are shuttering and others are using a non-union work force.
“We’re looking to get into the nuclear plants,” said L-627 BM-ST Jacob Evenson, who described to Lee the extensive training Boilermaker apprentices undergo, so they’re prepared to work in the energy sector.
Wesley Dale, one of the L-627 delegates, went to LEAP to represent Native Americans on Capitol Hill.
“Arizona is our region. We want to keep working within our region,” he told Lee.
At Sen. Hirono’s office, the big topic was the Jones Act and Hawaii’s shipyards. Shane “Kalai” Ferreira, a delegate from L-627 who lives in Hawaii and works for BAE Systems, said that the Jones Act needs to be strong. “It’s a ‘must have’ for us.”
The group also discussed the national issues facing the Boilermakers, including CCUS. “We’re strongly in support of carbon, capture and storage,” Evenson said. “We need to increase funding, because it will help us clean up the environment. It will also help us keep our jobs.”
New York members advocate energy policy
MEMBERS FROM LOCAL 5 Zone 5 (Floral Park, New York) dove into three full days trekking around the House and Senate in a tightly choreographed schedule, speaking with expertise on issues affecting their local and unions in general. On Tuesday they visited the House offices of Tom Reed (R-NY 23rd), Kathleen Rice (D-NY 4th) and Max Rose (D-NY 11th), to name a few of their stops. In addition to discussing national issues, their local’s concerns centered on the energy sector.
“The big thing we want to convey concerns the powerhouses and energy,” said Tom Ryan, the local’s president who has been visiting the Hill during LEAP for decades. “We’ve run into a lot of issues with the governor, who wants to bring in power from out of state and out of the country. New York State should generate its own electricity in New York State by New Yorkers for New Yorkers.”
His statement brought nods from the other L-5 Z-5 delegates: Christopher Donahue and Andy Labeck.
The local’s vice president, Kevin O’Brien, joined the group for a visit to Rep. Max Rose’s office, meeting with legislative assistant Asher Zlotnik to discuss nationwide energy issues, including CCUS.
“Solar and windmills are fantastic, but that won’t meet our energy needs,” said O’Brien while advocating for the Carbon Capture Modernization Act and the USE IT Act. “We need to bring down the cost for CCUS.”
Zlotnik agreed that having several different approaches to energy production, while also helping to mitigate climate change, is needed.
Local 28 speak up on Jones Act
STAFFERS IN LONG-TIME senator and friend-of-labor Bob Menendez’s (D-NJ) office met with Boilermakers from Local 28 (Newark, New Jersey), and the Jones Act was high on the delegation’s agenda. Led by L-28’s BM-ST Jim Chew, the group expressed grave concern over talk of repealing the 99-year-old law that says ships transporting goods between U.S. ports must be built in the U.S. and operated primarily by Americans.
In the wake of Hurricane Maria’s destruction in Puerto Rico, some individuals and organizations asserted that slow relief efforts there were due to a lack of ships to deliver supplies. The problem wasn’t that the ships weren’t getting there fast enough, the problem was that the infrastructure of the island was so devastated supplies could not be efficiently distributed.
“If the Jones Act is permanently repealed, it could open up the door for our military ships to be built by possible enemies,” Chew said. “We know the security problem that could pose.”
Repealing the Jones Act would also threaten Boilermaker shipyard jobs.
Menendez’s staff agreed, noting their appreciation for the Boilermakers’ support of the law.
The delegation also discussed CCUS as a viable technology to help mitigate climate change. After being given a brief peek at the CCUS video brochure, staffers said they couldn’t wait to share it with the senator.
NAFTA is top topic in Brown’s office
MEMBERS OF LOCAL 154 (Pittsburgh), Local 900 (Barberton, Ohio) and Local 13 (Philadelphia), among others, as well as International staff, met with fair trade advocate Sen. Sherrod Brown’s (D-OH) staff. The group discussed energy policy and CCUS, as well as pension and retirement security, among other topics.
Their hottest topic, however, was the new proposed NAFTA trade law. When AD-ISO Don Hamric introduced the issue, a Brown aide went into great detail about the senator’s zeal for getting the trade agreement correct. “Labor enforcement is the number-one thing the senator cares about, and he’s fighting for a better agreement for workers,” Senior Policy Advisor Nora Todd said. “Just because the Trump administration said they renegotiated the policy, that doesn’t mean it’s good enough for you guys.”
Todd indicated that Brown believes the key to rethinking NAFTA is raising worker’s wages in Mexico and making it easier for them to collectively bargain. Todd said that if the labor and environmental standards in other countries aren’t up to par, the senator can’t support the new NAFTA, because it undermines U.S. labor and environmental laws.
The delegation expressed appreciation for Brown’s understanding and support of organized workers to be treated fairly in all trade agreements negotiated with other countries.