McCain’s climate change stance will cost Boilermakers jobs

He wants to remove Davis-Bacon protections from bill that promises 50 years of Boilermaker work

REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL candidate John McCain issued a statement June 5 supporting the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act, a bill supported by the Boilermakers union, but first he wants to make one big change – remove all Davis-Bacon requirements.

Lieberman-Warner is a carefully crafted bill that balances environmental concerns with possible economic harm. The Boilermakers union supports the bill because it creates incentives for electric power producers to build new facilities to meet growing energy needs, while developing the technology needed to reduce global warming pollution. By establishing a viable cap-and-trade program for CO2, the bill opens the door to expansion of a variety of power sources – including wind, solar, nuclear, and most important for Boilermakers, coal. And it specifies that all entities receiving grants to invest in carbon-reducing energy infrastructure projects must pay workers the local prevailing wage.

Boilermakers Assistant Director of Government Affairs Abe Breehey believes that a cap-and-trade program, once established, will “create the bulk of [construction Boilermaker] work for the next 50 years. This bill creates good incentives for developing and building coal-fired power generation that includes technology to capture and store greenhouse gases. Installing this new technology will be tremendously labor intensive.” Experts estimate the Lieberman-Warner bill will result in $800 billion in infrastructure investments, from power generation to mass transit, between 2012 and 2050.

Senator McCain has been described as an environmentally-friendly candidate, largely because of his statements on global warming. But he has also stated he wants to repeal Davis-Bacon.

Repealing Davis-Bacon will do great harm to the economic environment of U.S. construction workers. Even without repealing the law, if McCain succeeds in removing prevailing wage protections from the nation’s efforts to address climate change, he will provide an incentive and mechanism for lowering wages throughout the industrial construction industry that will be with us for decades.

Although stating his support for the bill, he was not present to vote for it. The vote failed, and the bill has been withdrawn for now.