March 21, 2013

LePage: Gas project excludes workers

But the company planning to build a pipeline takes issue with claims about its labor agreement.

By Keith Edwards kedwards@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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LePage

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Maine Natural Gas started construction in September 2012 installing a natural gas pipeline along Route 17 in Windsor. It is competing with Summit Natural Gas of Maine to deliver natural gas to central Maine.

Photo courtesy of David Bosse/Maine Natural Gas

Duguay said the agreement on the steel pipeline will require contractors to abide by the National Pipeline Agreement, which he said sets conditions for workplace safety and other standards firms must meet to qualify to work on the Summit project and others like it. He said non-union firms can still bid on the project, as long as they meet those standards.

However, James Cote, director of government affairs and public policy for the Maine chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors, said Summit's project labor agreement requires contractors who wish to bid on the project to become a signatory to a union agreement. That would require them to use union laborers first, by seniority, before using their own workers, Cote said.

CLAIMS DISPUTED

Schlobohm said project labor agreements are frequently used in the private sector, and that they increase efficiency, do not increase cost and deliver the work on time. He said claims by LePage and the two associations that the project labor agreement would cause most work on the job to go to out-of-state workers is "completely false."

Dan Hucko, spokesman for Summit competitor Maine Natural Gas, said his company doesn't use project labor agreements because it "wouldn't want to exclude qualified people from getting a chance to bid." That firm is owned by Iberdrola USA, which is also the parent company of Central Maine Power Co.

Keith Edwards can be contacted at 621-5647 or at:

kedwards@centralmaine.com

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