Labor Leaders Call on Gov. Inslee to Support Energy Projects

30 leaders from 20 unions sign letter asking Inslee to support family-wage jobs

OLYMPIA — Labor leaders called on Gov. Jay Inslee today to support family wage jobs, address workforce training needs and increase state tax revenue through support of two energy infrastructure projects.

Thirty representatives of 20 different labor unions signed a letter delivered to Gov. Inslee’s office Thursday, asking for his support of Millennium Bulk Terminals in Longview and Vancouver Energy at the Port of Vancouver. The letter notes:

We believe both of these projects are vital to our state’s workforce training needs, and to the communities where they live and work. Millennium Bulk Terminals and Vancouver Energy will provide critically needed, family-age, union jobs and tax revenue for state and local governments. For these reasons and more, we support Millennium and Vancouver Energy, and encourage your support of both projects.

Lee Newgent, executive secretary of the Washington State Building & Construction Trades Council, said the projects are essential for developing the next generation of skilled trades workers in Washington.

“These projects are critical to training the next generation of our workers. We need large-scale infrastructure projects to provide apprenticeships and other kinds of on-the-job experiences that build skills,” said Newgent. “We support these projects because we know they can be built right from the start and will bring jobs and economic growth to areas of the state that need good family-wage employment.  Both Millennium and Vancouver Energy share in our commitment to build these projects right and make safety the top priority. Vancouver Energy’s promise to ship at 50 percent of its capacity until it has demonstrated safe operation is a good example of that commitment,” said Newgent.

At 6.7 percent, the unemployment rate in Cowlitz County, home to Millennium Bulk Terminals, is twice that of King County. Millennium would create a world-class port facility and would result in an additional 2,650 direct and indirect jobs during construction. Once operational, Millennium would employ 230 people and provide more than $20 million annually to the economy.

Vancouver Energy would also add jobs and boost the local economy. The project will provide 300 jobs in the building trades, and support 1,000 total direct and indirect jobs. The terminal will also bring in $1.6 billion in labor income and result in more than $2 billion in total economic impact. During construction, Vancouver Energy will pay $22 million in state and local taxes and $7.8 million in taxes annually.

“We need a Washington state economy that works for everyone, not just King County, not just Seattle,” said Larry Brown, legislative and political director for the Aerospace Machinists 751. “Our state is built on trade, and it’s important that we have private investors willing to support our capacity to move all variety of commodities and other products through Washington state.”

Mike Bridges, president of the Longview/Kelso Building Trades Council, said last week’s final environmental impact statement on Millennium by the Department of Ecology underscores his frustration with the state’s regulatory process.

“Five years is a long time to wait for economic development and new jobs. Fortunately, Millennium has stayed with us throughout this process and remains committed to the people of Longview,” said Bridges. “The state’s suggestion that Millennium account for 100 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions from coal shipped overseas is a perfect example of our state’s regulatory overreach.

“Longview is an industrial town. Our economy is based on exports,” he added. “We need these jobs and the economic boost it would bring to our community. Both of these projects are vital for skilled labor and to the long-term economic health of Southwest Washington. We want these jobs, and we hope the governor will support us and our families in this effort.”

You can find the full letter here:

Letter to Gov. Inslee to Support Energy Projects