PDT Staff Writer
One of the area’s best assets is it’s well-trained and well-prepared labor forces according to several labor union officials who sat in on a meeting of business, labor, education and government leaders Thursday morning at the Holiday Inn in downtown Portsmouth.
Among the items of discussion were projects such as the New Steel plant proposed for Franklin Furnace and the American Centrifuge Project at Piketon.
“From a carpenter’s standpoint, and it kind of encompasses the rest of the trades, we do have one of the best skilled workforces I feel around, hands down,” Trampas Puckett of the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters said. “All of our trades have spent a lot of money and resources on training all of our members. So as far as people saying we don’t have the skilled workforce, we have more, per capita, a tighter consensus of skilled workers than we probably do anywhere in the state. So we definitely have the workforce, and the skills are there to build any project - if you’re talking about the steel mill, we’ve got more than enough people to man that project - and also the Centrifuge Project. We’ve got the skilled trades to do the work. So that will never be an issue for us.”
Puckett said the Carpenters Union has what is called the “Best Practices in Health Care” training for members of that union.
“A lot of the agents go through it. I’m actually set to go through it in the next month or so,” Puckett said. “It’s an ICRA (Internet Content Rating Association) Certification. In talking with the people at the (Southern Ohio Medical Center) hospital, it cuts down on the airborn pathogens. So whatever we can do to help our hospitals, and slow the spread of disease, we’re trying to cut it down. In the coming year you’re going to see a lot of our members go through that training. So we’ll have the best qualified people to work there when they need them.”
Puckett said the union’s apprenticeship program is also coming along.
“We were slow there a few years ago, getting apprentices in, but they’ve changed some statuses, some criteria to get guys in. It has made it a lot easier to get some good people in,” Puckett said. “I have been making my rounds at a lot of vocational schools looking to recruit some of these younger guys. So we’re trying to get the best people available in the program and just go from there.”
Cherise Keyser of the Shawnee Labor Council said the ACP project at Piketon is extremely important to the area’s labor force.
“A lot of the membership has had to go out of town to find work,” Keyser said. “Employment levels are up because they are up statewide. But they’re just not in the area. So what that means is that our local people who are staying away from their families, away from home, would be able to come back here and live here again locally, and spend their money here locally.”
Keyser made a reference to the possibility of 4,000 jobs with the ACP up and operational.
“Potentially that is putting everybody here to work, and getting more folks in the area who would have to travel here to work as well,” Keyser said.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org