Regional tripartite conferences provide local focus

Southeast International Vice President Sam May swears in newly-elected Mississippi River District 5 Business Manager/Executive Secretary David Hegeman as retiring BM-ES John Simoneaux looks on.

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WHILE THE NATIONAL tripartite conference sets the direction for owner-contractor-labor cooperation, regional meetings allow participants to put those ideas into action. In 2009, seven regional conferences made it possible for all locals in the United States and Eastern Canada to meet with the owners and contractors they work with most often to discuss upcoming work and other regional issues.

The Ohio Valley Tripartite Conference is the longest-running meeting of this kind, dating back to the 1980s. It is credited with being an early inspiration for the national tripartite initiative. Meeting June 1-2 in Lexington, Ky., this conference drew 10 owner representatives, each of whom gave a brief presentation on the final day. The economic uncertainty following last year’s housing and stock market collapse was a common theme; however, owners also highlighted several significant new and ongoing projects.

The Prairie State Energy Campus in Washington County, Ill., being built by Bechtel Power Corporation for Prairie State Generating Company, promises to provide work for Boilermakers into 2011. The 1,600-MW supercritical power plant is currently the largest electrical generation construction project in the United States. Once completed, it will provide electricity for 1.7 million homes in nine states, producing 80 percent less carbon dioxide than the electricity generation it is replacing.

A key element of the Ohio Valley meeting each year is the compilation and distribution of manpower projections for participating locals. These forward-looking estimates help business managers find work, fill all their obligations to contractors, and keep their members on the job.

The Northeast Area Tripartite Conference took place in Rehoboth Beach, Del., July 13-16. The meeting included presentations from Boilermakers Director of Legislative Affairs Abe Breehey, MOST Safety Rep Roger Erickson, Northeast Area Recruiter Jay Brophy, John Kunkle from Waste Energy Solutions, and Steve Lindauer from the National Maintenance Agreement Policy Committee.

Because travel is expensive and time-consuming, regional tripartite conferences are often combined with other meetings. The Northeast Area combined their tripartite with meetings of the apprentice coordinators and lodges working under the Northeast Area Agreement. The conference ended with a dinner and dance, at which the winner of the Northeast Area Apprentice Competition was announced.

The Great Lakes Tripartite Conference brought together locals in Huron, Ohio, July 28-30. Five owner representatives made presentations, discussing upcoming projects and possible future work in the area. Tom Householder, American Electric Power, praised the safe workplace on one job, made possible by the tripartite approach, saying they’d worked 795,000 man-hours so far this year with no recordable injuries.

Climate change technology took a lead role in these discussions. Speaking for FirstEnergy, Larry Wargo talked about a plant being converted to a biomass facility. Rick Casper, Consumers Energy, said their proposed 800-MW clean coal power plant could break ground this year or next. Bill Terrassi, DTE (formerly Detroit Edison), talked about the cap-andtrade bill currently in Congress. Boilermakers SAIP-CSO Tony Jacobs gave a rundown on the progress of that bill and discussed some of the carbon capture projects that are already in operation.

The Southeast Area Tripartite Conference took place in Destin, Fla., Aug. 31 – Sept. 2. Nineteen locals and three district lodges were represented. Speakers from the Southern Company talked about productivity studies and environmental studies. Robert A. Summers, vice president of major projects for the Tennessee Valley Authority, gave a report on their upcoming and ongoing projects. Anthony Perkins, from Applied Technical Services, discussed non-destructive testing, and Dan Klingman, a trainer with Lincoln Electric Company, talked about the advancement of welding technologies.

At a district lodge meeting that preceded the tripartite conference, District 5 BM-ES John Simoneaux announced his retirement effective Oct. 31. David Hegeman, Local 37 BM-ST, was elected to succeed him.

The Western States Tripartite Conference was held in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Aug. 17-20. Nine local lodges, 17 contractors, and seven owners sent representatives. International President Newton B. Jones talked about the MOST Boilermaker Delivery System currently in development.

Climate change was also a key feature of this conference. On the first day, a panel consisting of Brad Enzi, North American Power Group; Travis McLing, Idaho National Laboratory; Jerry Bennett, APCOM Power Inc.; and Boilermakers Director of Legislative Affairs Abe Breehey discussed greenhouse gases. They covered a wide range of possibilities and problems posed both by the technology and by the political process necessary to bring it to market. On the second day, McLing gave a detailed summary of current scientific research into carbon dioxide storage.

The Eastern Canada Tripartite Conference took place Aug. 11-13 in Collingwood, Ontario. Guest speakers included IP Newton B. Jones; David Galvin, president of the Boilermaker Contractors Association; Stew Stevenson, ArcelorMittal Dolfasco; the Honorable Jack Keir, minister of energy for New Brunswick; Duncan Hawthorne, president and CEO of Bruce Power; Lloyd Rankin, Ascension Systems; James Byrne, director of construction for New Build CANDU; and Dennis Ryan, president of Compass Health & Safety.

Mark Breslin, author and owner of Breslin Strategies, conducted a session on developing a leadership culture within the union and the industry. A portion of his talk included a generational analysis of the tripartite participants. Breslin’s analysis illustrated the need for today’s leaders to begin mentoring and teaching promising members of the millennial generation — people born from about 1980 to the mid-1990s. Also at the conference, educator Jack Grosvenor discussed his concept “Play to Win,” which emphasizes accountability.

The Upper Midwest Tripartite Conference was held in Bloomington, Minn., June 15-16. Participating were Locals 83, 107, 169, and 647. They met with 25 contractor and nine owner representatives to discuss upcoming work and identify ongoing problems.