The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, November 15, 2013

News Briefs

By The Building Tradesman

AFL-CIO numbers treading water

Membership in the AFL-CIO averaged 8.399 million over a two-year period ending June 30, a gain of about 35,000 members since 2009.

The numbers were provided to Bloomberg BNA and reported last month. The release of the union rosters coincides with the AFL-CIO's quadrennial convention, which was most recently held this summer. The mildly positive numbers aren't as good as they seem: they are bolstered by the Laborers International Union and UNITE Here, unions that were split from the AFL-CIO in 2009 and weren't counted then, but have since rejoined the labor federation.

The report shows that only 10 unions showed membership growth since 2009, and only five had gains of more than 10,000 members. That list, in order, includes the American Federation of Government Employees, the Firefighters, National Nurse United, the Boilermakers and the Postal Workers Union. The Boilermakers were the only building trades union to see membership growth since 2009.

On the other end of the scale, the biggest membership losses took place among the Communication Workers, the UAW, the Steelworkers, AFSCME, and the IBEW.

Consumers starts $255M wind park

Consumers Energy, its contractors, Tuscola County-area landowners and local government officials held a groundbreaking event Nov. 1 to officially start construction of the company’s second wind park, the Cross Winds Energy Park near Caro, about 15 miles east of Saginaw.

"Renewable energy will continue to be a vital part of our Balanced Energy Initiative, providing Michigan residents with the energy they need, whenever they need it,” said Jack Hanson, Consumers Energy’s senior vice president of energy resources. “We are drawing on our state’s natural resources to power our state’s future.”

Cross Winds is expected to open in late 2014, fulfilling the state of Michigan’s requirement that energy providers generate 10 percent of their power from renewable sources. The facility will include 62 wind turbines, with a total capacity of 105 megawatts. Consumers Energy also opened the 100-megawatt Lake Winds Energy Park in Mason County last year.

About 150 construction jobs will be created during Cross Winds construction now and into 2014. Southfield-based Barton Malow Company is the lead contractor, with several Michigan-based subcontractors and parts suppliers also participating in the project.

“As part of our $1 billion commitment to the Pure Michigan Business Connect initiative, we’re pleased to report more than $100 million of the $255 million Cross Winds Energy Park will come from services and goods supplied by companies in our state,” Hanson said.

GE is supplying the 1.7 MW turbine units for Cross Winds, with 43 turbines scheduled for Akron Township and 19 turbines scheduled for Columbia Township. Initial construction will focus on building access drives and turbine foundations and will continue in coming months, weather permitting. Turbine construction is scheduled to begin next summer.