Pipestone County Star: Wind workers - One union’s push to keep them local

Construction union Laborers’ International Union of North American (LiUNA) is calling for wind farm developers to use more local labor in wind farm construction projects, which it says boosts the local economy in the area wind projects are built.

Lucas Franco, research manager, with LiUNA, asked about the inclusion of local workers during a Sept. 27 public meeting held in Pipestone to take comments on NextEra Energy’s plans to remove 137 existing wind turbines and replace them with 44 new turbines at the Lake Benton II wind farm between Ruthton and Holland.

More recently, he and Kevin Pranis, marketing manager, with LiUNA met with representatives of NextEra Energy to discuss a report titled “Catching the Wind: The impact of local vs. non-local hiring practices on construction of Minnesota Wind farms” that Franco coauthored with Katie Hatt, executive director with the North Star Policy Institute, a progressive think tank.

“We’ve been meeting with a number of different wind farm developers just trying to communicate the core findings of our report and have early discussions about how important putting local folks to work is to us,” Franco said.

The difference between hiring local and non-local workers, according to Franco and Kevin Pranis, marketing manager, with LiUNA, is that local workers pay property taxes, send their children to school, spend their income at local businesses and donate to local churches and non-profit organizations in the communities near which the wind farms are built, whereas non-local workers spend money in the area while they’re working there, but spend the rest of their income where they live.

Full story here.