Iron Workers Local 7 represents over 3,800 workers in the steel industry, covering Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire. The Union has grown steadily over the years and currently seeks to recruit more apprentices to help fill jobs during the ongoing construction boom.
Grant Provost, a Business Agent of Iron Workers Local 7, joined the America’s Work Force Union Podcast to discuss efforts to grow the Union, the demand for ironworkers in New England and how the Union is preparing to fill that need.
Job demand remains high in New England
New England is currently undergoing a construction boom, Provost reported. He pointed to a hospital project in Portland, Maine, offshore wind projects off the coast of Maine and several other sizable construction projects that will have a high demand for jobs in the years ahead.
The coast of Maine is one of the windiest places in the country, Provost said. To take advantage of this natural resource, wind turbines will be placed on barges and submerged 3,500 miles off shore. Each hull weighs 10,000 to 25,000 tons, Provost said.
The demand for ironworkers to fill these jobs will be steep, Provost indicated. To meet this demand, the building trades have begun sea training at the Maine Maritime Academy and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy.
Union recruits new members to fill need
Iron Workers Local 7 is currently in a robust application period, Provost reported. Its apprenticeship program saw over 1,000 applicants this year — roughly 100 have been placed, he said.
Recruiters are visiting nonunion jobsites in order to attract new members, Provost said. These newly recruited members usually turn out to be excellent recruiters themselves, as they tell co-workers how much better their lives are after joining a union, Provost stated.
Maine fosters union friendly environment
Provost also discussed the union-friendly environment that has prospered in Maine following the ouster of former Governor Paul LePage, Provost said. Maine now has a Democratic-led House and Senate, as well as Democratic Governor Janet Mills. The President of the Senate Troy Jackson is a union painter, Provost said.
These changes have made Maine friendlier to unions, Provost said. The Democratic House and Senate go to bat for unions and tend to push Governor Mills to be more union-friendly than she already is, he said.
So-called “Right to Work” bills may be suggested in the Maine legislature, but they always get killed in committee, Provost said.