Corporation Commission and construction trades unions agree - it's all about local jobs!
AZ Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce supports efforts to secure local jobs for local labor
The Arizona Capitol Reports' reported this week on our continuing fight for ensuring local jobs for Arizona workers. In a debate that has spanned more than a year, the leadership of the Arizona Corporation Commission and the unions that build some of the state's signature projects agree: local jobs for local workers is an integral component for getting our economy back on track.
Injected with anti-union hysteria and labeled as a "union power grab," opponents have attempted to quell efforts to ensure that projects - including large solar energy plants and other renewable energy projects - would first seek to employ Arizona workers at a time when this job sector is suffering more than most others. Associated General Contractors Arizona Chapter lobbyist David Martin - the primary opponent of the local jobs initiative - described the good-faith efforts to employ local workers as a "Trojan horse" for union negotiating.
Not so, according to Arizona Corporation Commission Chairman Gary Pierce, who - like the Arizona Building and Construction Trades Council - views these efforts as a local jobs issue. Like the council, he agrees that integrating this as a condition of the contract was an effective way of enforcing that requirement, rather than just taking a company at its word that it would use local labor.
The debate bled into the Arizona State Legislature last session, during which State Senator Don Shooter (R-Yuma) sponsored a bill that prohibits assurances that local workers would have the first opportunity to work on an Arizona project. One of the most useless laws of the 2011 legislative session, S1403 - which Gov. Brewer signed into law - prohibits an activity that has not been proposed or practiced on any project in Arizona thus far.
"Although a majority of the legislature does not seem to grasp this, it is encouraging to see that Chairman Pierce does - the goal of both union and non-union labor and contractors who call Arizona "home," is to work on these multi-year infrastructure projects that will help our hard-hit construction industry get back on its feet," states Israel Torres, attorney for the Arizona Building and Construction Trades Council. "We have the best trained, safe and efficient workers and contractors in the country. It is wrong for our own elected officials to let anti-union hype distract efforts to put people back to work."