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ACT’s Third Protest Gains Support

By Staff | Sep 15, 2010
Senator Jeff Kessler (D-Marshall), left, discusses the use of imported workers on Marcellus Shale development with a protester. (Photos by Miranda Stokes)
Affiliated Construction Trades members stand along state Route 2 near its intersection with North Street in New Martinsville to protest the use of imported workers when the local unemployment rate is so high.

Senator Jeff Kessler (D-Marshall) and more than 100 protesters and supporters were present at Thursday’s Local Jobs Rally in New Martinsville. Local construction workers, in conjunction with The Affiliated Construction Trades (ACT), have been holding protests in opposition to Holloman Corporation’s use of imported workers on a Marcellus Shale related construction project. Thursday’s gathering was the third protest resulting from Holloman’s use of out of state workers in West Virginia. The protests have been growing in numbers and public support since they began two weeks ago.

The protest took place from 9 a.m. until noon at the intersection of state Route 2 and North Street, a location which has been used as a work staging area due to its close proximity to the job site. Protesters held up signs and spoke with passers-by, handing out fliers for the public to hang in support of ACT’s efforts. “We are thrilled to see public support for local jobs for local workers growing in Wetzel and Marshall counties,” said Jim Flanigan, with Ironworkers Local 549. “We have plenty of good, skilled, hard workers right here and they are ready to do any job that needs done in this state.”

The Texas-based Holloman Corporation is importing construction workers from far away states, such as Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana, into Wetzel and Marshall counties to build two natural gas compressor stations. The compressor stations are needed to process gas being captured from Marcellus Shale. The Marcellus Shale promises to be one of the largest natural gas discoveries of the century and lies underneath most of West Virginia.

With unemployment at more than 13 percent in the region, the protesters believe skilled, local workers should be given the opportunity to perform the jobs. “We support responsibly harvesting our state’s natural resources, but think jobs created by West Virginia’s natural resources should benefit its own citizens, not imported workers that don’t live or pay taxes here,” said Flanigan.

Senator Kessler voiced his support and spoke with many in attendance at the rally. “I’m here to ensure and support local labor,” Kessler stated. He noted that while the Marcellus Shale trade is a wonderful and unique opportunity, at the end of the day the jobs and wealth from the projects should be enjoyed by those living where the explorations are being done. “These projects are putting additional strains on our publicly funded resources such as water and roads,” Kessler underlined. “In creating such strains it’s not too much to ask the local residents and workers reap the benefits.”