Don't Drink the Tea. Think With the WE.

If You’re Against Pipelines, You’re Against Some of the Best Jobs Around

The positive impact of the NGP would span multiple provinces

The positive impact of the NGP would span multiple provinces

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A recent op-ed in the Vancouver Sun supports the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by several influential Canadian labor unions surrounding the Northern Gateway Pipeline project.  The author, Robert Deane, explains the tremendous positive impact a quality jobs boom brings:

“The fact is this: Minimum-wage and lower-wage jobs, part time jobs and insecure jobs do not build stable communities. If you wish to build a society with good schools, adequate recreational facilities, excellent infrastructure and well-funded social services, you need the income and tax dollars that decent paying sustainable employment provides.”

Jobs that pay well go beyond helping the people who work them. Communities are lifted up when increased earnings are funneled back into the economy and local government.  The Northern Gateway project, thanks to Project Labor Agreements (PLAs), will help employ Canadians across a wide spectrum of industries and “will guarantee a minimum target of about 2,100 person-years of employment of union labour,” according to the MOU.

Unions who have signed into the MOU include the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA!), the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry (UA).

Recently, 58 percent of Kitmat residents rejected the report of the Joint Review Panel in a non-binding vote.  The town, which would be a major site of the Northern Gateway project, effectively rejected the project.  Deane feels this was ill-advised:

Although I understand the concerns of the 58 percent of voters who were against the JRP report and the project, I would hasten to remind them to reconsider the long-term viability of their community without the capital investment Northern Gateway will provide.

Further, the participation of trade unions should ensure due diligence is a continuing element of the project. Although I have occasionally been critical of some trade-union practices I have always believed the trade-union movement has generally been a powerful force for social good throughout history. While there are ethical, conscientious non-union employers in any industry, what’s clear is no one wants to return to Charles Dickens’s 19th-century industrial England.

This project offers the local economy an opportunity to run against the tide of an international wage mentality that can be described as a race to the bottom. Rather, this project promotes the establishment of a value-added economy that could create a critical mass of talent that’s attractive to other industries, both petroleum related a non-related.

Deane also highlights the union role in ensuring high-quality work and a generation of regional workers who will have the opportunity to begin rewarding careers thanks to the apprenticeships that the project would support:

Unions have always been supportive of safe, clean and responsible work environments. Post-construction, union members will live in the community and raise their families there. Their long-term participation in the project will likely establish a high water mark for employment and encourage young people to seek technical training and stay in the community.

I watch young people from my town fly halfway across the country to the West to find decent paying technical jobs in the oil industry that can no longer be found in southern Ontario. I would exhort the residents of Kitimat and other right-of-way communities engaged in this conversation to look beyond the daunting and legitimate concerns they have, and to embrace a long term-vision of prosperity and growth.

Read the entire op-ed here.


One Comment on “If You’re Against Pipelines, You’re Against Some of the Best Jobs Around”

  1. Stop drinking the Kool-Aid and get some facts rather than spin. The Northern Gateway plan is to ship RAW product and JOBS to CHINA!! It will speed up the mining (and pollution) at an exponential rate. The Chinese will be manning their own mines and building their own pipeline, there will be very few Canadian jobs. As you must know, once a pipeline is built, the jobs are pretty much done. ( unless you want to count clean-up crews for leaks, this is an earthquake zone) China already owns the leases, so the profit and jobs will be Chinese, all Canada gets is the mess. There are already huge developments in the tarsands manned by nearly 100% TFWs. PLAs have NOT secured jobs. Don’t get me wrong here, I work in the industry, I’m not one who believes we can all “Go Green” overnight, but there are much better alternatives. Instead of “digging it all up right now” we should be refining and upgrading at home, value added instead of shipping raw product. We could supply ourselves instead of buying from foreign countries. You must be smart enough to realize refineries and up-graders supply good long term sustainable jobs, not so with piping out raw product. The refine at home approach will slow down the rate of tarsand expansion, yet increase the profitability. Win-win for Canada instead of China and our other big player here, Koch Bros. Hope you’ll give this a second thought before endorsing it.

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