The word "jobs" was probably used more than any other in the halls of the people’s house over the last session. Jobs for the unemployed, jobs for the under-employed, jobs for teens, jobs for retirees, jobs for part-timers, jobs for our future generations, jobs for veterans and jobs for entrepreneurs. Also, healthcare jobs, training for green jobs and retraining our existing workforce to prepare them for "green jobs" and move our workers off the unemployment lines to help with the State’s economy.
Governor Shumlin campaigned on a promise to "put Vermont back to work" and in his inaugural address he promised to work to put Vermonters "back to work one job at a time". He can claim victory for the second part of that promise. This session the legislature passed a jobs bill that many refer to as a "job bill which literally creates two jobs and ends one.”
In his inaugural address, our Governor also talked about how many Vermonters are living in fear of losing their jobs, taking pay cuts, losing their homes, unable to afford to send their kids to college, unable to afford healthcare and secure their future through retirement options. He talked about the false promises from political speak and the guiding principles for his administration. He told us that he and his administration will commit themselves every day to "making the lives of Vermonters more economically secure".
He also said that we would "seize the job opportunities a lower carbon economy requires," and that "Vermont’s diversified jobs future is bright. Manufacturing, deployment and production of renewable energy and efficiency, tourism, technology, and agriculture are all sectors of our economy with potential for unlimited growth."
Just last week the Times Argus ran a story about a multi-million dollar project in Barre and how the paving contract is most likely being awarded to an out of state company, Luck Brothers from Plattsburgh, N.Y. Will Luck Brothers bring their own work force, or will they hire folks in the Barre area in need of a job?
Also, last week I learned that the Iron Workers here in Vermont were notified that they could not be competitive in price so they would not be hired for the work on the First Wind project in Sheffield. First Wind has contracted with RMT Inc.
In a letter from Tracy Bredeson of RMT Inc. to Michael Morelli of the Vermont Local 7 Iron Workers, she says, "the difference in costs between RMT, non-union labor and local union labor is substantial. The difference would be$391,570. This accounts for base pay, burden rate and in the case of RMT, subsistence costs." However, Ms. Bredeson has not been able to produce a breakdown of the costs and admits in her letter that she still needs to "review the size of the Vermont project" in order to give Mike an accurate size of the crews they would use for the erection phase of the towers. Without this detail, one wonders how she could give an exact dollar amount difference.
We have workers in Vermont who are unemployed or underemployed who could work on both the Barre paving project and the Sheffield wind project. Vermont Iron Workers have tried to work with RMT to put our workforce back to work or keep them working. The hiring of out of state contractors seems to be a growing trend in Vermont, and is something that our Governor is going to have to rein in to be truly committed to Vermont's economic future.
The Sheffield Wind Project is a Green Project that could be done by local skilled Vermont workers; green is not shipping workers in from Utah. Dollars earned and spent by our local workers will remain in Vermont and help with both the local and state economy. Next session, we need to pass legislation such as S.69 that was introduced in the Senate by Senator Pollina that supports hiring local. This bill would have required state and local governments to purchase products from Vermont companies and encourage the use of Vermont workers on projects that receive state funding. The bill never made it out of the Senate Government Operations committee. Please contact your local Senator and ask if they sponsored the bill and if not, why not?
Also, please contact Governor Shumlin's office and ask our Governor why, when we have local Vermonters with the skills to do the job, we are importing workers from Utah? Will we import workers from Maine for the Kingdom Wind Farm in Lowell?
As Governor Shumlin said: "Vermonters wonder: is anyone in government listening? Can we let go of the political speak, stop playing pretend, face the facts, and arrive at a common purpose?"
Vermonters are not interested in political speak.