On Monday, approximately 70 sheet metal workers, cement finishers, teamsters, pipe fitters, carpenters gathered in Ohio to protest the use of out-of-state workers to construct the Guernsey Power Station.
We had a feeling something like this would happen thanks to uneven reopening plans between states, but that doesn't make it any less of a hard pill to swallow for skilled laborers itching to get back to work and earn a living. As reported by the Daily Jeffersonian, Laborers` Local 530 business manager Phil Harris organized the protest to inform county residents about non-local workers taking jobs.
From the Jeffersonian:
“We got plenty of local help. We have about 140 people on our work list that we can supply them with and they are not using our people,” Harris said. “They haven’t signed an agreement with us either, and that’s what we have been waiting on. There are other trades here that they haven’t signed with either.”
“This is a $1.4 billion project. This is absolutely a huge project right now,” Mario Cespedes, field coordinator for the Ohio Laborers District Council, said. “The developers had to authorize and get permits from the Public Utilities Commission and submit information about what was going to happen when they build the project.”
A spokesperson for the Guernsey Power Station explained in a statement that allegations about the use of out-of-state labor are not true.
“The ones that are not are individuals that have worked with Gemma and are experts in their field and they need to bring in certain experts workers, but 90% percent of the workers on-site are from within the area and are union craft labor," says Curtis Wilkerson, spokesperson for the Guernsey Power.
Additionally, the state's protesting laborers allege that an out-of-state worker was infected with the COVID-19 virus and the local health department was not made aware of that. From the Jeffersonian:
A call to the Cambridge-Guernsey County Health Department was not returned to verify that claim.
Wilkerson was not aware of a COVID-19 case in an employee and said he would have to look into that, as well.
The Guernsey County Commissioners said they were not aware of the problem with the power plant situation until this morning.
Read more of the latest news for sheet metal workers at SNIPSmag.com.