North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) says its members are “ready, willing and able” to assist with post-Hurricane Harvey cleanup and rebuilding efforts in Texas and Louisiana.
“Whenever a major natural or man-made disaster has struck the United States — including Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy, and the attacks on 9/11 — the men and women of [NABTU] have always responded in earnest, and we intend to do the same with regard to the tragedy that continues to unfold in Texas and Louisiana,” the organization said in a statement. “Our members and our unions bring a unique and much-needed skillset to these types of situations, where a safe, highly trained and highly skilled construction craft workforce is invaluable to clean-up and re-building efforts.
“Further,” NABTU added, “as residents and whole communities begin the arduous process of re-building homes, buildings and critical infrastructure, our apprenticeship-readiness and formal apprenticeship education and training system has proven to be an asset not only in ensuring that enough skilled craft professionals are available to do this work, but also to provide life-altering career training opportunities for local residents.”
On a brighter note, NABTU and Blackstone on Sept. 5 announced a new agreement whereby the investment firm would adopt a Responsible Contractor Policy. Under the policy, Blackstone will cooperate with NABTU to include “responsible contractors” — i.e., those contractors who meet a set of criteria that promotes fair benefits, wages, working conditions and training opportunities — in the bidding and selection process for investments in the firm’s dedicated infrastructure business. Earlier this year Blackstone announced a $20 billion commitment by Saudi Arabia to that sector of its business.
“Rebuilding our country’s aging infrastructure will create badly needed jobs with good wages and benefits for construction workers throughout the United States,” said Sean Klimczak, Senior Managing Director and Global Head of Blackstone’s Infrastructure business. “At Blackstone, we have a strong track record of responsible engagement with workers, their labor union representatives, and the communities in which we invest. We are proud to partner with the NABTU in this effort because we believe a fairly compensated and well-trained workforce is critical to producing high-quality infrastructure projects that help drive local economic growth.”
Sean McGarvey, President of the NABTU, added: “We are proud to partner with Blackstone on ensuring good jobs and pathways for disadvantaged communities in the launch of their dedicated infrastructure business. This agreement creates opportunities for our members and contractors, while strengthening job training for women, veterans and communities of color.”