June 17, 2017
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
North Kingstown, RI, – Rhode Island building-trades unions and environmentalists celebrated the nation’s first offshore wind-power farm on a chartered-boat cruise June 13.
The 30-megawatt, five-turbine Block Island Wind Farm, in the Atlantic Ocean about 4 miles southeast of Block Island, began operating last December, and was built with union labor.
“Many years of hard work ensured that these were good quality union jobs that paid good solid wages,” BlueGreen Alliance executive director Kimberly Glas told the New Bedford, Mass. newspaper South Coast Today. Matthew Morrissey, Massachusetts vice-president for Deepwater Wind, the company that runs the farm, called the trip “ an opportunity to come together and see that you can actually build a new economy in America while protecting the environment.” Deepwater could have used nonunion labor for the 300 jobs building the farm, said Scott Duhamel of the Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council, but “they did it with us.” Those jobs paid $28 to $40 per hour plus benefits, union representatives said. Michael Monahan, a regional vice-president of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, said he hoped upcoming offshore wind energy projects would bring more union work—and that maintaining the equipment creates permanent jobs. Read more