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Local Laborers Protest Use Of Imported Workers

By Staff | Sep 1, 2010

Several construction workers and members of the Affiliated Construction Trades Foundation (ACT) hold a protest at the intersection of state Route 2 and North Street in New Martinsville against Chesapeake Energy and the Holloman Corporation for their use of out-of-state workers for the construction of two gas compressor stations in Wetzel and Marshall counties. (Photo by Miranda Stokes)

The Holloman Corporation’s use of imported workers, from far away states such as Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma, to build gas compressor stations in Wetzel and Marshall counties spurred a protest by local workers in New Martinsville on Aug 26.

Holding signs and wearing t-shirts reading “Local Jobs for Local Workers”, area construction workers and members of the Affiliated Construction Trades Foundation (ACT) converged at the intersection of state Route 2 and North Street in the morning to rally for local jobs. The intersection has been used as a staging ground for the Texas-based Holloman Corporation’s local job site.

Several people driving by honked their car horns in support and many stopped to take a flier to hang in homes and businesses.

“It’s about time” was a popular phrase spouted out of car windows.

“There’s absolutely no need to import construction workers from other states to do jobs in Wetzel County and Marshall County,” said Jim Flanigan, with Ironworkers Local 549. “These are tough economic times and we have plenty of good, skilled, hard workers who can do any job that needs done in this state.”

The Holloman Corporation is contracted by Chesapeake Energy to build two separate gas compressor stations, one in Wetzel County and one in Marshall County, which will process the natural gas captured from Marcellus Shale. Marcellus Shale is found underneath most of West Virginia and it promises to be one of the largest natural gas discoveries of the century.

“You hear a lot of talk about how Marcellus Shale is going to benefit West Virginia,” said Flanigan. “But if they won’t even hire West Virginians to work on these new facilities and projects, then I don’t have much faith in Marcellus Shale benefiting anyone besides big energy companies.” Flanigan and others have attempted to contact both the Holloman Corporation and Chesapeake Energy regarding the matter, but have reportedly received no responses from either organization.

Wetzel County is struggling with an unemployment rate of 12.6 percent, the fifth highest unemployment rates in West Virginia.

Many residents hoped construction of the compressor station would mean more jobs for Wetzel County, but Holloman’s importation of out-of-state workers has dimmed once high expectations.