Feb. 4, 2011 - PHOENIX The Arizona Building and Construction Trades Council (BTC) continued its efforts this week to ensure that large solar projects coming to Arizona are built by the economically hard-hit, local construction labor force.
Last October, the Arizona Line Siting Committee (LSC) - and subsequently the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) - approved language requiring an out-of-state developer to negotiate in good faith with the BTC in an effort to reach a model construction labor agreement on its $2.2 billion dollar project for union and non-union contractors.
However, a recent applicant, SolarReserve, LLC, last month convinced the LSC to remove the BTC condition for a diluted condition. The LSC did not condition the same good-faith negotiation for this project, planned for Gila Bend.
In response, the BTC prepared a detailed case and spoke before the ACC to fight for stronger CEC language to protect Arizona workers - both union and non-union - and ensure that jobs do not automatically go from an out-of-state contractor to transient, out-of-state workers.
"At this critical time in Arizona's economy, it is clear Arizona workers should be given the first opportunity to be trained and hired for Arizona jobs - particularly those that use Arizona water and natural resources," stated Israel G. Torres, TCLG managing partner representing the BTC. "Getting people back to work - bringing local jobs and local workers to the forefront - is a priority for the Building Trades Council." The Arizona Associated General Contractors and Arizona Builders' Alliance opposed the language, labeling it as a "power grab" by unions, even though the language clearly stipulated that it would include both union and non-union workers.
Nevertheless, despite the AGC and ABA objections, the BTC successfully secured a compromise at the Feb. 2 ACC hearing for stronger language to be included into the CEC. The BTC will continue to monitor and reemphasize to elected officials that, to get the state's economy back on track, local projects should be built by quality, local workers.