Ohio Laborers Report More Than 4 Million Work Hours Over 16 Months — Thanks to Shale

by Jackie Stewart, Energy in Depth

The Ohio Laborers District Council (OLDC) recently reported that it surpassed 2016 expectations by more than a million work hours and totaled 4.2 million work hours over a 16-month period from January 2016 to April 2017, thanks to the numerous shale-related pipeline and natural gas power plant projects taking place in the Buckeye state.
Today, there are 3,000 Ohio laborers working on various stages of oil and gas development. And not only has Ohio’s flurry of shale-related activity resulted in thousands of jobs for skilled laborers from the OLDC — which represents a large share of Laborers International Union of North America-member (LiUNA) workers — the laborers are anticipating work for years to come, as Ohio Laborers Training Center executive director Robert Chatterson recently stated,
“The distribution work in gas pipelines is a 25-year project. Conceivably a young person can go into distribution work and work their whole career and retire with a great pension.”
Laborers’ work craft covers four main areas of shale-related construction: processing facilities, pipelines, road work and well pad construction. The skills for these jobs are taught at the 56,000 square foot Drexel J. Thrash Training Centerlocated 12 miles east of Mt. Vernon in Howard, Ohio. LIUNA has been preparing for the shale renaissance for years by ramping up their apprenticeship programs and recruiting Ohio men and women to work on pipelines and natural gas power plants. Just a few months ago, members of the Ohio State Senate discussed the pipeline workforce development training going on and how there is broad support for training the “jobs of the future.”
The laborers have been working for almost all the major oil and gas companies operating in Ohio, debunking a common myth perpetrated by anti-fracking activists that jobs are not coming to local communities. Remember this recent Columbus Dispatch headline?
The Dispatch claimed in that January 2014 article that, “there has been little change in the underlying labor market… transient workers are among the most tangible signs of the shale ‘boom’.” If that’s actually true, then why are union halls currently being reported as at maximum capacity.
Rocky DiGennaro, president of the Western Reserve Construction and Building Trades Council recently said,
“Building work is really good and most of the crafts are at maximum capacity.”
Also, according to Ray Hipsher, Pipeline Specialist at the Ohio Laborers District Council, the laborers in Ohio have worked on projects for: American Energy Partners, Antero Resources, Chesapeake Energy, Columbia Gas, Dominion East Ohio, Duke Energy, East Ohio Gas, Eclipse Resources, Gulfport Energy, Kinder Morgan, MarkWest Energy Partners, Rice Energy, Williams, Clean Energy Future, Energy Transfer Partners, TransCanada and Advanced Power, just to name a few. LiUNA has 17,000 members statewide and they would like to continue this work and expand their operations into other projects as well. But don’t take our word for it, as Hipsher also recently said,
The shale industry is hiring local workforce. That’s going to keep the money in the community and the laborers doing the work are going to take pride and care of the quality of their work, because we are your neighbors. We care about doing this pipeline work right and environmentally sound.”
Anti-fracking groups also try to perpetuate the myth that all jobs created by shale are only temporary. In 2011, ThinkProgress put out a blog entitled “Oil Industry Report Outlines How to Create Temporary Jobs While Permanently Destroying the Climate” that said, “They are all temporary jobs, since they aren’t sustainable.”
Statements like these prove how incredibly out of touch groups like ThinkProgress are with what’s really happening in states like Ohio.
As Chatterson stated earlier, distribution work on pipelines requires long-term maintenance. The same is true for natural gas power plants, and Ohio happens to have $10 billion worth of natural gas power plant development in progress at the moment, activity that is slated to create over 6,700 jobs. Each one of these plants requires millions in maintenance and labor needs per year, and each plant is slated to be operation for 40 years.
Another curious example of misinformation campaign is the New Republic’s recent article entitled, “Fracking Isn’t the Job Creator You Think It Is.” The article posed these questions:
“Where do the workers extracting gas in Pennsylvania or Ohio live and spend their money? Where are the best jobs located? While the fracking industry may support the national economy as a whole, some places are winners and others are losers.”
Those are easy questions to answer: It’s clear that the workers there are 3,000 laborers working in Ohio and spending their money in Ohio. Where are the best jobs located? Ohio it appears, thanks to over $50.4 billion invested by the oil and gas industry. When it comes to creating millions of work hours and local jobs, it’s clear that Ohio is a “winner” — and it’s all thanks to fracking.

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