Bismarck Tribune: Labor union seeks state's help getting wind developers to hire local

Bismarck Tribune - Amy Sisk  

Many Bakken workers have skills transferable to wind farm construction, but when some recently sought to help put up turbines in northwest North Dakota, they were frustrated that they were not hired, a labor union representative told lawmakers Thursday.

“Every license plate coming through on these jobs was Minnesota, Texas, Oklahoma,” said Evan Whiteford, a marketing representative for Laborers’ International Union of North America Local 563.

Companies involved in wind farm construction sometimes hire workers from other states who will accept lower wages, or they use a traveling workforce that moves from project to project across the country, according to the union.

“There are hundreds of skilled workers in the state waiting to fill these jobs,” said Pam Trhlik, director of government relations and new business development for the Laborers District Council of Minnesota and North Dakota.

The issue has frustrated Local 563 members in North Dakota and Minnesota for a number of years, and the union successfully pushed regulators in Minnesota to require that wind developers report where the workforce building their facilities lives.

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