In a recent article on its website, North America's Building Trades Unions (NABTU) published an article stating that the building of America's energy infrastructure could support 1.15 million new jobs and add an average of $120 billion per year to the nation's GDP.
"The 14 national and international unions that comprise North America’s Building Trades Unions estimate that 50% of our collective membership of over 3 million skilled craft professionals in the United States and Canada are employed in energy-related industries," the article said.
In a statement before the U.S. Senate earlier this year, NABTU President Scott McGarvey emphasized the importance of those numbers, saying it meant workers "are able to provide for their families while receiving union-provided healthcare and pension benefits."
The estimate of 50 percent is a significant jump over just two years ago, when less than 10 percent of oil and gas workers were represented by unions. But, according to a report in USA Today, a shift from out-of-state to local labor led to a rise in union involvement.
The article said anti-fracking groups were dismayed that unions were supportive of drilling activity. "The increasing use of union construction labor has given energy companies a powerful ally as drilling is debated in communities nationwide," the article pointed out. "Many Republicans have been pro-drilling, but now some unions traditionally associated with Democrats are using their political clout to urge politicians to reject bans on pipelines or drilling."
Last year McGarvey reiterated, in a Huffington Post editorial, that the energy boom was responsible for creating new jobs, calling it "a leading contributor to American workers' vaulting out of the unemployment line and into the middle class."
The Building Trades continue to benefit from the ongoing work of the oil and gas industry. It's been a hotbed of opportunity in East Central Ohio, and is expected to rebound and again be a source of job growth between now and 2017.
Visit the East Central Ohio Building & Construction Trades Council online at www.eastcentralohiobuildingtrades.com.