Senator Shaheen released a statement today after the event:
“U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) today celebrated the new Manchester Job Corps Center with a bipartisan coalition of federal and local officials at a ceremonial groundbreaking event. Shaheen was joined by Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Governor Maggie Hassan, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) and Mayor Ted Gatsas where the group celebrated the investments in New Hampshire’s youth and economic future that the groundbreaking represented. Once complete, the center will provide low-income youth with education and job training to build successful careers in today’s economy.
Over the past 15 years, Senator Shaheen has led bipartisan efforts to build the new Job Corps Center in Manchester. As Governor, she created the state’s first ever economic development plan and one of its key recommendations was pursuing a Job Corps Center. Subsequently, Shaheen led the effort through her Workforce Opportunity Council to submit the proposal to the Department of Labor in 2001. In the Senate, Shaheen has continued her leadership on the project’s development and construction. Recently, she secured report language in an appropriations bill for construction of the project. The bill was passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee in July.
Since its inception in 1964, over two million youth have received academic and career training through Job Corps. The Manchester Job Corps Center, which will provide educational opportunities youth ages 16 to 24, is scheduled to be completed in December 2014 and enroll 150 students by June 2015. The Manchester Job Corps Center will provide vocational instruction in the advanced manufacturing, construction, health care, homeland security, hospitality and information technology industries.”
I want to make something very clear. I have been a fan of Senator Shaheen since she was Governor Shaheen. My great uncle was the President of the NH chapter of the National Association of Retired Federal Employees (NARFE). He would tell me stories of how he and Governor Shaheen had a very close working relationship. He was at her inauguration and that picture hung in his home office until he passed last year.
However I am not as happy about this new Jobs Corp center as she is or some of the other elected officials who were at the event. That is because I know the true story of the Manchester Jobs Corp center.
You may remember that it was bid out in 2009. Since the Jobs Corp center was going to be build with federal dollars that required a Project Labor Agreement and a prevailing wage. Then the Associated Builders and Contractor (ABC) raised their dirty hands in protest.
This angered Joe Casey President of the NH Building Trades Council.
“The selfish actions of North Branch and the ABC stand to harm hundreds of people in New Hampshire: Young people will not be able to benefit from participation in Job Corps programs. Area businesses will not benefit in the long term from a greater number or professionally trained workers and in the short term from the economic boost of a $35 million project. And construction workers that are struggling through one of the worst down periods in our lifetime will continue to struggle to find work.”
The problems did not stop there. After ABC helped to get then Mayor Guinta elected to the US House of Representatives, Guinta went right after the unions and Project Labor Agreements.
Congressman Guinta used his new power to block the Jobs Corp Center. He had the entire project rebid without a PLA. Of course it is going to come back cheaper. When companies do not pay for worker safety equipment or workers’ compensation insurance or apprentice training, then they can obviously charge less money. Corporations don’t care about the workers, they only care about the profits.
One of the key points to blocking the PLA on the Jobs Corp center was the fact that New Hampshire has a very small unionized population, and that the union workers would not be local to New Hampshire. Just because our percentage is smaller than Massachusetts does not mean we do not have good workers. I know there are at least 4,000 union carpenters here in New Hampshire.
There are already rumors flying around that the sub-contracts for the Jobs Corp Center are going to out of state corporations.
So while everyone else is celebrating today, I remember the real story behind this Jobs Corp Center. I am glad that Congresswoman Shea-Porter is back in her seat in Washington, because she would have never screwed the hard working men and women the way that Congressman Guinta did.
To be fair, I am glad that the project is actually being completed. We need a place for these people to go and get good training in a field they can make a career. College is not for everyone and this could really be a stepping stone in the right direction for some people. Maybe after they learn some of the basics at the Jobs Corp center, they can join the largest training program in the entire country: the building trades union apprentice program.