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Being Alone, Do It Again, and Donald Trump: IBEW Wages Lost:
The Electrical Worker | November 2019
$1.8 Billion in U.S. Military Construction
Cut for Border Fence
Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks, Alaska, had nearly $100 million in base
construction and maintenance effectively canceled under the president’s orders –
"a gut blow," said Anchorage Local 1547 Business Manager Dan Reaves.
Not deferred, ‘dead.’ These
projects aren’t coming back,
said one IBEW leader.
chances on the other work would have
way.Money is allocated for specific pur-
poses and plans are made based on
money that is allocated. That all is
undone and wasted," said Government
one is "dead." The Pentagon went
through a process, often yearslong at
enormous expense, planning, prioritizing
and preparing for specific projects. Then
Congress funded those specific projects.
Why,he asked, would they put that
money back when the president did an
end-around Congress’s constitutional
authority to spend money when he’s giv-
en no sign that he wouldn’t do it again?
"Congress will not replenish these cof-
fers. Never," O’Connor said.
been pretty good," he said.
Local 46 used to have a near lock on
the work at the base, but that slipped a
decade ago, Fulgham said.
"I have been aggressively trying to
get our contractors out there again. This
kills some of that momentum," he said.
The projects were canceled after
President Donald Trump made a February
declaration that "a national emergency
Employees Department Director Paul
O’Connor, who worked for decades main-
taining the U.S. Navy’s nuclear subma-
rine fleet as a member of Portsmouth,
N.H., Local 2071.
And whatever word the administra-
he White House suspended more
than 100 shovel-ready military
construction projects in Septem-
ber to divert funding for a border
fence, effectively killing hundreds of
"My first thought when I heard was,
‘This is going to hurt us," said Business
Manager Dennis Floyd. "It is our bread
and butter doing Davis-Bacon work. We
have one contractor, 80% to 90% of what
they do is prevailing wage work. To cut
this out, in the short term puts us out of
work, and in the long term, these were
important projects; killing them puts the
military infrastructure at risk too."
New City, N.Y., Local 363 lost the
most work, two projects worth a com-
bined $160 million, both on the campus of
the U.S. Military Academy in West Point.
"We would have had a real good
shot at those jobs. With 10-15% of the con-
tract being electric work, that’s at least 60
men for about a year," said Business Man-
ager Sam Fratto. "It has been a bit slow-
we’ve got a few people on the book – so
it’s not a good thing to have any project
canceled, but these are two massive proj-
ects. West Point needs those projects to
continue to have a world-class military
academy, and we need the paychecks."
One of the largest canceled projects
was a $62 million middle school to
replace the overcrowded and crumbling
school on Fort Campbell, Ky. Nashville,
Tenn., Local 429 business representative
Mark Poole said they’ve had members
working on base for more than a decade.
"It never got to electrical bids, so l
tion wants to use to describe that status
exists along the southern border of the
United States that requires the use of the
armed forces." In addition to the $1.8 bil-
of the projects, O’Connor said the right
potential IBEW jobs.
lion in U.S. projects, Defense Secretary
Matthew Esper announced an additional
$1.8 billion of overseas construction
projects would be "deferred" as well.
In a letter to Congress announcing
the cancellations, Esper said he wanted
to work with Congress to restore funding
for the projects.
"You can’t run a governme
The Pentagon announced the sus-
pensions Sept. 3, outlining plans to real-
locate $3.6 billion in congressionally
funded military construction projects
around the globe to wall funding. Inside
the U.S., nearly $1.8 billion of planned
construction in 26 states and territories
will fund about 115 miles of fencing along
the southern border.
While none of the contracts for the
Hill Air Force Base in Utah, right, and
Naval Base Kitsap on the Puget Sound
are among 42 military installations in
the U.S. and territories that lost major
projects had been let, more than a dozen
IBEW business managers said these were
the kind of jobs that signatory contractors
have won in the past and hundreds of
jobs are now lost.
"It was a gut blow, really," said
Anchorage, Alaska, Local 1547 Business
Manager Dave Reaves. "Our state’s econ-
omy is in the longest recession in history.
We are already facing significant job loss,
and our members are already leaving the
state. Federal and military construction
has been a big portion of our work,, espe-
cially for our inside members, and now we
are looking at hundreds of jobs and thou-
sands of man-hours lost."
Local 1547 alone is facing the can-
cellation of $102 million in projects sched-
uled to start in the next year and a half.
Davis-Bacon jobs with minimum wage
levels set by the Labor Department are
the lifeblood of signatory contractors
across the country but are especially
important in open shop states where
union contractors compete with low-
wage, low-skill competition.
Norfolk, Va., Local 80 is a small
ocal in a right-to-work state. Three proj-
ects worth just over $67 million were can-
eled in its jurisdiction with the stroke of
he president’s pen.
definitively that we lost work,
but we have some very competitive bid-
ders for work there and I would have been
very, very confident about our chances.
Very confident," he said.
A pier and maintenance facility proj-
ect at Naval Base Kitsap worth just under
$89 million was canceled in the jursdic-
tion of Seattle Local 46. Multiple signato-
ry contractors had already bid on a sea
wall extension at the base said, Local 46
business representative Barry Fulgham.
"We think we have a good shot of
landing the extensions and, if we do, our
He took our Jerbs!
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