Groundbreaking & Signing Ceremony Niland Gas Turbine Plant

Bob Balgenorth Remarks
Groundbreaking & Signing Ceremony @ Niland Gas Turbine Plant, Imperial County

April 20, 2007 - As Chair of California Unions for Reliable Energy and President of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, I want to acknowledge my appreciation to the members of the management team and the Board of IID.

During the negotiations on the Project Labor Agreement, the leadership of the Imperial Irrigation District demonstrated that they have a vision for the future of the Imperial Valley.

I also want to acknowledge the local union leadership who are proud to be partners in that vision:
Nico Ferraro, Business Manager of the Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 230; Eddie Marquez, Business Manager of Boilermakers Local 92; Al Shur, Business Manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 569; and Danny Machain, Business Manager of the Imperial County Building and Construction Trades Council.

I'd like to take just a couple of minutes to zero in on why the PLA for the Niland Peaker Plant and the signing of this PLA for the El Centro Unit 3 Repower will be so beneficial to so many people.

First, these agreements guarantee good-paying jobs with health benefits and a secure retirement for the highly-skilled labor force needed to build and maintain these complex plants.

They also guarantee that the construction jobs and the payroll they will generate will provide a continuous, immediate, and direct boost to the local economy.

Much of the money paid to local union construction workers will be spent right here in the Imperial Valley.

Second - and this is extremely important for the community - the agreement provides for highly-supervised classroom and on-the-job training for construction apprentices in the various trades.

California's joint labor-management apprenticeship programs now spend well over $100 million each year to train new apprentices and to keep journeymen up-to-date on the latest construction methods. These Project Labor Agreements ensure that this training will continue and opportunities will exist for Valley residents. The training is vital to honing the skills of the workers who will form the construction workforce of the future.

Our labor market information estimates that the construction industry in this state will require about 31,000 new skilled workers for each of the next 10 years to handle the rebuilding of California's infrastructure.

The Imperial Valley deserves, and needs, skilled workers that form the backbone of a healthy economy.

As the other speakers have mentioned, construction of this peaker plant will also provide an uninterrupted flow of power to the IID service area even when the temperatures here allow eggs to be fried on every surface exposed to the sun.

Finally, the Project Labor Agreements will guarantee that the energy generated by these plants will be clean and reliable. Both CURE and IID understand that keeping the power on is vitally important to the economic future of this great valley.

Once again, on behalf of CURE, I want to thank the Imperial Irrigation District and all the people involved in the negotiations for their efforts toward creating this partnership that offers a better economic future for the Imperial Valley and the people who live and work here.

Our next speaker is one of those people. He is Jose Miranda. Jose is an apprentice electrical worker who is a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 569. He lives here in Imperial County, and he is going to give you a brief first-hand account of what his apprenticeship has done for him. Let's welcome Jose Miranda.

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