North America’s building trades unions and Ørsted announced a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) to construct the company’s U.S. offshore wind farms with a union workforce.
The National Offshore Wind Agreement (NOWA) was uthorized by 15 international union presidents and their local affiliates. The agreement covers all of Ørsted’s contractors and subcontractors that will perform offshore windfarm construction from Maine to Florida.
Ørsted, with its joint venture arrangements, has six offshore wind projects in development, including approximately 5,000 megawatts, enough to power more than two million homes.
Off the coast of Maryland and Delaware, Ørsted is developing Skipjack Wind, a 966-megawatt project.
The agreement came as no surprise, given the Biden Administration’s push for union jobs on infrastructure projects. Project labor agreements have their critics among nonunion contractors, who claim the agreements drive up costs and limit competition.
“This historic milestone is a celebration for workers, clean energy, and economic opportunity,” said David Hardy, CEO of Ørsted Offshore North America. “The National Offshore Wind Agreement we signed with NABTU sets the industry standard from the beginning. We’re going to build an American offshore wind energy industry with American workers, family-sustaining wages, and robust and equitable training programs to achieve this critical vision.”
Ørsted noted that offshore wind will directly create approximately 80,000 jobs with 5.75 million-plus union work hours and tens of thousands more indirect jobs in manufacturing, maritime work, logistics and clean energy technology.
“Positioning the U.S. as a global offshore wind energy leader, the NOWA training and employment provisions will increase union construction workforce capabilities to build complex offshore wind energy infrastructure and propel forward a new commercial-scale domestic energy industry. Portfolio-wide, Ørsted has already committed $23 million to enhance or establish new programming that will prepare American workers for jobs in offshore wind,” a release stated.
“This is what it looks like to put the words ‘high-road labor standards’ into action,” said AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler. “The partnership between Ørsted and NABTU is monumental, for the thousands of workers who will have great jobs, and for the example, it sets for the U.S. offshore wind industry. The project labor agreement signed today is proof that labor and employers working together can create an equitable clean energy transition with opportunity for everyone. When we make good on our values – workers’ rights, gender and racial justice, economic equality, and safe and healthy workplaces – then we all win. This PLA meets that test and sets the bar high for working people and the planet. Clean energy jobs can and will be good-paying, family-sustaining union jobs.”
The agreement also covers ares such as workforce diversity and pre-apprenticeship programs and Registered Apprenticeship programs that already recruit directly from nonprofit programs to train and support communities of color, women and other groups,.
Ørsted operates America’s first offshore wind farm, Block Island Wind Farm in Rhode Island, and has the largest U.S. offshore wind energy portfolio.