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Power generation reps give blueprint for securing work inside utilities

September 9 2009

The Association of Union Constructors was pleased to host a power generation panel discussion on Sept. 9 at Pennsylvania Powers Union Construction.

Panel guests included Thomas Householder of American Electric Power, Kevin Reimer of Public Service Enterprise Group, David Szuch of Allegheny Energy Supply Co. and Lawrence Wargo of FirstEnergy Corporation.

The Allegheny Energy, American Electric Power and FirstEnergy panelists all confirmed that they are using internal work crews to complete at least some maintenance now as a result of the poor economy and their challenged balance sheets.

“Accept it as a challenge; offer us a better deal than [we could get by] handling things internally,” Szuch said. “In short term, it can be an opportunity or missed opportunity.”

Householder said jurisdictional squabbling only makes the business case for union contractors worse.

“Petty arguments over whose work is whose, it encourages us to try to do the work with our own people,” said Householder. “Once again, nobody’s going to get the whole apple, but everyone can get a good chunk of it.”

The panelists told the crowd that their companies consider a few major factors when selecting a contractor for a project, including, cost, quality, schedule requirements, environmental impact and safety.

“If we don’t believe our next project can be worked injury-free, it shows a lack of commitment on our part,” Householder said.

The panelists called for increased random drug-testing on union jobsites, indicating existing [non-random] testing is not adequate.

“If our random testing programs are not accelerated, focused and coordinated, you fall into a situation where the numbers seem relatively low. The bad news is the more we focus on random testing, the more we find the problem is actually larger now than it was before,” Wargo said.

Householder and Szuch both promoted using a 10-panel test for construction workers, and Householder suggested leveling the playing field by requiring union and non-union workers to pass the same scrutiny.

Reimer discussed the opportunities for union contractors in supporting utilities’ alternative energy initiatives. He said the opportunities remain on a mid- to long-term horizon.

John Erickson, executive director of the National Association of Construction Boilermaker Employers, moderated the panel.

With more than 250 union contractors, industrial business owners and labor representatives in attendance, Pennsylvania Powers Union Construction was the single largest meeting in TAUC’s history. The meeting was held at the Sheraton Station Square in Pittsburgh.

Pennsylvania Powers Union Construction was generously sponsored by:

  • Aramark Uniform Services;
  • Boilermakers Local 154;
  • Blue Mountain Equipment Rental Corporation;
  • the Ironworker Employers Association of Western Pennsylvania;
  • Manning & Napier;
  • the Mechanical Contractors Association of Western Pennsylvania;
  • Mobile Medical Corporation; and,
  • the National Maintenance Agreements Policy Committee, Inc.
  • The Association of Union Constructors will be holding another industry-wide event on Dec. 9, 2009, in Washington, D.C., called State of the Union Construction Industry 2009. Advance registration is required through www.TAUC.org. Questions can be referred to Todd Mustard at 703.524.3336 x 112.


    The Association of Union Constructors is the premier national trade association representing the 21st Century union construction industry. TAUC consists of more than 2,500 union contractors, local union contractor associations and vendors in the industrial maintenance and construction field. We demonstrate union construction is the best option because it is safer and more productive, and it provides a higher-quality and cost-competitive product.

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