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    Saturday, September 30, 2023

    Longshoremen’s union plans protest at State Pier in New London

    Aerial view of wind turbine parts at State Pier in New London on Thursday, August 31, 2023. (Peter Huoppi/The Day)
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    New London ― The union representing the longshoremen working at State Pier plan a demonstration here over jobs related to work for the offshore wind industry.

    The International Longshoremen’’s Association has notified its members of a “Day of Action,” planned for Sept. 20 against Danish wind company Ørsted as the union pushes for an expansion of its work at the pier, which is being used for the staging and assembly of wind turbine components associated with Ørsted and Eversource’s South Fork Wind project.

    Longshoremen were hired to unload the wind turbine components but the union also seeks jobs running the cranes and heavy transport vehicles that move the components around the pier. That work is overseen by wind turbine manufacturer Siemens Gamesa and subcontracted to members of a different union, the International Union of Operating Engineers.

    Ørsted characterizes the union dispute as a jurisdictional issue between two unions.

    A similar dispute led to protests and a temporary work stoppage earlier this year at the Marine Commerce Terminal in New Bedford, Mass., which is being used as a staging area for Vineyard Wind, an offshore wind farm being constructed by a joint venture between Avangrid and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners.

    The International Longshoremen’s Association, in a Sept. 8 letter to members, said the “Ørsted Day of Action is to demonstrate against the largest wind developer in the world that has ignored ILA core work jurisdiction by assigning our traditional job functions to other workforces than the ILA.”

    The letter is signed by ILA Assistant General Organizer Jim Paylor and International Vice President Peter Clark, who were appointed earlier this year to spearhead the union’s push to secure jurisdictions on offshore wind projects in states along the east coast.

    The ILA also claims in its letter that Ørsted has ignored repeated requests for training for members. It is unclear where the “peaceful demonstrations” will take place but union members participating are asked not impede any port operations.

    An Ørsted spokesperson said negotiations are ongoing with the union.

    “Union labor is central to our work to stand up a new American clean energy industry. Our projects are already creating hundreds of local union jobs, including key roles for the International Longshoremen’s Association handling vessel cargo for South Fork Wind at New London State Pier,” Stephanie Francoeur, spokespeson for Ørsted, said in a statement.

    “We’re hopeful for a swift resolution of the unions’ jurisdictional issue. In the meantime, we’re keeping South Fork Wind’s construction on-track,” she said.

    Connecticut Port Authority Executive Director Ulysses Hammond, whose agency owns the pier and is overseeing the $300 million pier upgrade project, said the negotiations involve Ørsted, port operator Gateway and Siemens Gamesa.

    Hammond has said about three dozen longshoremen are enlisted for work at the pier, offloading cargo when a vessel comes in.

    Jim Dillman, president of Enstructure Northeast and Gulf Coast, the parent company of State Pier operator Gateway Terminal, indicated in a statement that he is hopeful for a resolution.

    “Gateway New London has a strong relationship with the ILA and we remain committed to working together to deliver best-in-class marine terminal services to our customers,” Dillman said.

    Dillman also said Gateway and the ILA are working together to implement a “robust training program to ensure that the ILA skilled labor is properly credentialed for (self-propelled modular transport) and crane operations.”

    That works includes approximately 10 jobs, depending on the size of the operation, he said.

    A representative from the ILA did not respond to calls and emails from The Day.


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