President Jones highlights M.O.R.E. Work Investment Fund
THE MOST NATIONAL Tripartite Alliance brought together Boilermakers, owners and contractors in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, August 27-30 for the 33rd annual conference of the industry partnership. International President Newton B. Jones, conference chairman, opened the event with a discussion of the M.O.R.E. Work Investment Fund.
President Jones told the conference M.O.R.E. is the union’s strategic plan to deal with lost work opportunities. “There is no greater issue impacting us today than the dramatic shift away from coal over the past 10 years,” he said. To address that shift, he explained that M.O.R.E. — an acronym for Marketing, Organizing, Recruitment and Employment — will provide assets to expand into industries and geographic areas where Boilermakers need a greater presence. He said that in addition to securing new work opportunities, the fund will help grow the membership and enhance workforce availability for contractors and owners.
Jones also spoke about the need to embrace carbon capture and storage technology as essential to mitigate climate change impacts and provide job opportunities. He introduced a new video, “CCS: Bridge to a Cleaner Energy Future” (at CleanerFutureCCS.org), produced by the Boilermakers to promote greater understanding and acceptance of CCS technologies.
Gephardt announces push for new clean air act
THE CONFERENCE KEYNOTE speaker, former House Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt (MO-3rd), expressed the need to treat climate change seriously, whether or not people are convinced of the science. He described the “zig zag” shifting of the federal government’s approach to CO2 emissions, energy and the environment, considering the starkly different policies of the Obama administration and the Trump administration.
Gephardt announced that he is working with stakeholders in government, business, labor, the environment and other groups to develop and promote a 50-year environmental and energy plan that would provide more certainty for policy and regulations going forward. Gephardt said the United States needs to take the lead on dealing with climate change, noting that the U.S. and other wealthy countries will face major issues if the more than three billion people in the world living in poverty don’t get access to affordable, clean energy.
“If we want to live in a world that is safe for us, then we need to solve the emissions challenge [and share that technology with other countries],” he said.
After Gephardt’s speech, President Jones presented him with an honorary Boilermaker membership in Local 27 (St. Louis).
MacGregor gives update on ground-breaking refinery project
IAN MACGREGOR, PRESIDENT and CEO of North West Refinery, provided an update on the Sturgeon Refinery project in Alberta that processes bitumen into diesel fuel while emitting less CO2 than the light crude refining process.
“This is the first refinery with carbon capture designed in from the get-go,” he said. Captured CO2 will be used for enhanced oil recovery and will be transported via the Alberta Carbon Trunk Line, another enterprise he is involved with in Canada’s oil sands region.
MacGregor said the Sturgeon Refinery is nearing completion of startup for Phase 1 and has employed more than 5,000 union tradesmen and women working more than 50 million man-hours.
Economist says turbulent industry makes for unique labor shortages
DR. PETER PHILIPS, professor of economics at the University of Utah, gave an overview of how extreme turbulence unique to the construction industry impacts labor availability during “boom” and “bust” periods. He explained how Boilermakers over the years have adapted to supply and demand volatility through the use of travelers, planning for and anticipating outages, flexibility in work hours, the use of helpers and other initiatives.
“The chemical plants and refineries cannot talk to one another about when their outages will take place (for legal and competitive reasons),” Philips noted, “but they can talk to the union. That puts the union in a position to think about how to most efficiently allocate workers across those outages. That is one of your core competencies.”
Philips urged the union to take advantage of today’s economic stability, ahead of future economic downturns, to build its strength.
“You’ve got to meet the needs of owners and contractors,” he said. “You’ve got to use the resources flowing your way now to finance the reforms you need to make today for the problems of the future.” He said those resources are necessary “to recharge your apprenticeship program, to refill that missing generation of Boilermakers, to recruit new contractors and take your industry into new sectors of the economy.”
Allam Cycle offers emission-free power generation using fossil fuels
DAMIAN BEAUCHAMP, A principal and chemist at 8 Rivers Capital, LLC, provided an update on the progress of a demonstration project in LaPorte, Texas, that employs a revolutionary technology to produce emissions-free electricity using fossil fuels. The project is being developed and operated by NET Power, a portfolio company of 8 Rivers Capital.
Beauchamp said the LaPorte plant is based on the Allam Cycle, a process that uses oxy-combustion of carbon fuels and a high-pressure, supercritical CO2 working fluid to generate electricity. The only byproducts are liquid water and a stream of high-purity, pipeline-ready CO2.
“This has superior total economic advantage to any existing fossil-fuel-fired generation that currently exists, while inherently capturing all the CO2 at no additional cost,” Beauchamp said.
He added, “For far too long, renewables have been trying to [mitigate climate change] alone. We decided to address the problem not with renewables but with something that’s better for the worker, the customer and the climate.”
The NET Power plant has successfully completed testing on combustion and is expected to go online in 2020.
Ullico CEO says recruiting, more work, is recipe for success
“THERE’S NOTHING LIKE employment that fixes America,” said Ed Smith, president and CEO of Ullico, Inc. “When our members and people are working, when they have good paychecks, we all win.”
Smith praised the forward-thinking M.O.R.E. Work Investment Fund, stressing the need to market the union and recruit more members — especially younger members.
“Recruiting new members and getting more work opportunities is the exact recipe for success for contractors and for your union,” he said.
Smith went on to discuss Ullico’s J for Jobs fund and how it ties to Bank of Labor and the Boilermakers’ National Funds. He explained that J For Jobs provides construction loans and requires that projects be 100 percent union. The Boilermaker-Blacksmith National Pension Trust invested in J for Jobs, which has returned more than $10 million to the trust, he noted. In addition, the projects financed through J for Jobs have an escrow of $45 million, which Ullico has set up at Bank of Labor, which, in turn benefits Boilermakers and other unions receiving financing through Bank of Labor for union halls and training centers.
Smith said: “That’s the power and the leverage of using union members’ money and your employers’ money to not only protect your pension and grow your pension, bring work for your members and your contractors, but also to leverage it even more through Bank of Labor so Bank of Labor can loan the money out to further strengthen the labor movement.”