There are a lot of reasons to be excited about the rapid development of offshore wind in New Jersey. As a renewable energy source, millions of homes and businesses will be powered sustainably. Furthermore, offshore wind opens more research possibilities and innovation at the state’s exceptional colleges, universities and businesses.
But as the leaders of New Jersey’s local unions, the benefit we are most excited about is the opportunity for our members to work and for our employer partners to expand their markets to be a part of this burgeoning industry.
Constructing, operating and maintaining an offshore wind farm is no small feat, and depending on the size of the project, one alone can create thousands of long-term employment opportunities over its lifetime. That number doesn’t even include the indirect jobs that result from the industry’s growing supply chain.
The work opportunities being made for union labor aren’t necessarily guaranteed, though. It’s up to the developers to recognize the tremendous value that our members bring to a wide range of industries and invite us to the table. In March, ours were among six local unions to sign a first-of-its-kind agreement with Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind to train and hire union labor to construct their wind farm, should their bid be selected.
Commitments like this are a monumental step towards making sure New Jersey workers, who have built so much in this great state, will be central to building its green energy infrastructure.
It’s not unusual to see local union workers boxed out of opportunities like the one in New Jersey — in favor of out-of-state workers who may already have the skills and are willing to relocate. But decisions like that only serve to hurt the communities that will be powered through advancing renewable energy sources. By committing to invest in and train our members so they can become leaders in this moment of opportunity, developers like Atlantic Shores are making a promise to New Jersey’s future.
As President Biden’s recent announcement made clear, the offshore wind industry is set to skyrocket in this corner of the country. Thanks to the strength of local unions and the investment and partnership of developers, the Garden State is poised to be a national leader in the development of offshore wind — and union labor will be at the forefront.
Union labor built New Jersey. As offshore wind takes off in earnest in the state, we will build that too.
John Del Sordi, of Cranford, Union County, is senior regional director of the Eastern Millwright Regional Council. William Sproule, of Galloway Township, is executive secretary treasurer of the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters.