Why does the IBEW want to kill jobs?
More is at stake than jobs for the union’s members
I was raised in a union household -- my father was an International Union of Electrical Workers steward. He said that unions formed to give workers bargaining power that they as individuals did not have. As a union employee myself, I saw my union negotiate pay rates and working conditions, representing me and hundreds of others so that we got a fair shake. I believe in unions, especially in this age of corporate greed and dominance.
I was horrified recently when a legislator shared a mailing she had received from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, signed by Joe Casey. It was a lengthy position statement advocating the Northern Pass transmission project.
It presented a rosy picture of jobs, tax benefits, lowered electricity bills and so forth. To read it, you would wonder what all the fuss is about. How could anybody be against something this good?
But another thing my father said is that if something looks too good to be true, it probably is. The Northern Pass picture is not all rosy. It is deeply flawed, and there are serious issues that Mr. Casey failed to address.
Mr. Casey seems to have lost sight of the fact that more is at stake than jobs for his members. The construction jobs that Mr. Casey expects will end, his members will move on, and the areas that depend on the landscape for their economy will be left holding the bag.
My area welcomes many, many visitors every year. Some of them drive up for the day from Derry or Bow. Some stay in hotels for a few days. Some go camping at Franconia Notch or in the White Mountain National Forest. Some love it enough to build or buy a second home here. These visitors support our economy.
Second-home owners build or remodel homes and then maintain them using local contractors. Builders, electricians, plumbers, cooks, waiters, landscapers, retailers, hairdressers, barbers, painters, hardware and building supply retailers and many others have jobs here because of our tourist population.
These jobs are threatened by Northern Pass.
How do I know? I was a second home owner, and I would not have bought my house if transmission towers were looming over it. Who would?
Without our large visitor segment, the jobs that depend on it will dry up. We are already seeing effects just due to the threat of Northern Pass.
As far as I can see, Mr. Casey is saying that his jobs matter more than our jobs. He seems to think it is fine for his members to have work that destroys ours. I never understood that a union's mission is to garner jobs for its members at any cost, even a devastating human cost or an unacceptable social cost like, say, other people's jobs.
The funny thing is that Northern Pass can be constructed using modern, low-impact technology that spares our landscape, provides many jobs and delivers significant revenues to New Hampshire’s treasury. Underground lines along state-owned transport corridors address most of the negative visual impact, preserving tourism jobs. The state could collect transmission fees in the millions annually. Our neighbors in Vermont, New York and Maine have figured this out and have underground projects underway.
Surely, IBEW members would be interested in learning this new technology, since it is the wave of the future and would result in more jobs for them down the road. All of us in New Hampshire would benefit, instead of some of us winning and some of us losing.
Nancy Martland of Sugar Hill is coordinator of the organization Sugar Hill Tower Opponents.