Vineyard Wind Signs Labor Agreement as it Prepares for Construction

labor agreement for offshore wind project Vineyard Massachusetts
File image courtesy Vineyard Wind

Published Jul 19, 2021 7:02 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Vineyard Wind project continues to make progress to becoming the first offshore wind farm in the U.S. federal water. On July 16, the project held a signing ceremony to commemorate the first project labor agreement for an industrial-scale offshore wind project in the United States. The contract is another important step for the project that gained federal approval in May and is also seen as a model for the future of the U.S.’s offshore wind industry.

The project labor agreement between the Southeastern Massachusetts Building Trades Council and Vineyard Wind covers both the jobs to be created in New England during the construction of the project and a series of initiatives both to ensure diversity in the workforce and build the workforce for the future. It is anticipated that roughly 500 union jobs will be created through the pact. The terms of the agreement will ensure that a majority of the workforce be from local communities, in addition to setting hiring targets for women and people of color.  

“The signing of this Project Labor Agreement sets the standard for Off-Shore Wind and other renewable energy projects across our country,” said Frank Callahan, President of Massachusetts Building Trades Council. 

Project labor agreements are widely used in both the private and public sectors to establish the terms and conditions of employment on projects to ensure workers and the community benefit from career opportunities in the construction field. They are also a tool used to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion on the job site through investments in recruitment and pre-apprenticeship programs that create career pathways into the building trades for underserved communities. 

Through the agreement between the unions and Vineyard Wind, $500,000 will be allocated to a special fund designed to bolster pre-apprenticeship and recruitment programs that will create opportunities for low-income residents to work on the Vineyard Wind project.

“The signing of this PLA is the culmination of our long-standing promise to the working people of Massachusetts,” said Vineyard Wind CEO Lars T. Pedersen.  “We now have an agreement in place that will make sure local residents on the South Coast, Cape, and Islands, can reap the greatest possible benefit from this new and growing industry. And beyond that, it’s a commitment to make sure we have a diversified workforce that represents the communities where we work so that we can open the doors of opportunity as wide as possible.”

The PLA signing ceremony was held at the Marine Commerce Terminal in New Bedford. The turbines will be dispatched from that terminal for installation by the building trades union members.

Vineyard Wind 1 is an 800 MW project located 15 miles off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard and will be the first commercial-scale offshore wind project in the United States.  The project will generate electricity for more than 400,000 homes and businesses in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and will create 3,600 full-time jobs over the life of the project in various disciplines and industries, including the more than 500 union construction jobs covered by the recently announced pact.

The Biden administration’s Interior Department gave the final approval for the construction of the project in May 2021 after more than three years of review and debate over the project. The Construction and Operations Plan (COP) was reviewed by more than two dozen federal, state, and local agencies over the course of more than three and a half years.

Vineyard Wind is expected to reach a financial close in the second half of 2021 and construction could begin before the end of 2021. The project is expected to begin delivering energy to Massachusetts in 2023.