Ørsted Strikes Deal with AFL-CIO on Offshore Wind Construction Jobs

block island wind farm
File image courtesy Orsted

Published Nov 19, 2020 8:34 PM by The Maritime Executive

The world's biggest offshore wind developer, Ørsted, has reached a deal with the AFL-CIO's building trades affiliate on bringing union members into the budding U.S. offshore wind sector. 

The nationwide deal with North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU, formerly known as the AFL-CIO's Building and Construction Trades Department) is reminiscent of the cooperative arrangements between many European manufacturers and industrial unions. Under the agreement, Ørsted and its partners will work with the building trades’ unions to identify needed skills and requirements. The groups will match those needs against the available workforce, timelines, scope of work, and certifications needed for Ørsted's giant pipeline of projects up and down the East Coast. 

In addition, Ørsted and NABTU have agreed to work together on "long-term strategic plans for the balanced and sustainable development of Ørsted’s offshore wind projects." This planning effort will ensure that skilled labor is ready to go when federal permits are finally obtained and construction begins.

"Our agreement is based on a successful model developed by the Rhode Island Building Trades for [Ørsted's] Block Island Wind Farm project. We commend Ørsted for coming to the table to work in partnership with us and our membership, and we also thank AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler for her help and support throughout the process," said Sean McGarvey, the president of NABTU. 

The potential opportunity for organized labor is significant. Ørsted has the largest footprint of any offshore wind developer in U.S. waters, and it holds about three gigawatts of power contracts on the Eastern Seaboard. 

“We are proud to have earned a strong record of working with skilled union labor to build the country’s first offshore wind farm, the Block Island Wind Farm, where more than 300 union workers were employed,” said David Hardy, CEO of Ørsted Offshore North America. “We appreciate NABTU’s cooperation and the collaborative approach our union partners have brought to this endeavor."