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NABTU and Ørsted sign MoU for U.S. offshore wind workforce transition

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Ørsted and North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in a landmark initiative to transition U.S. union construction workers into the offshore wind industry.

Ørsted’s deal with NABTU is a significant moment for organized labor and the renewable energy industry. This framework sets out a model for collaboration in labor management and the growth of the workforce in the developing offshore wind industry.

There are currently 15 active commercial offshore wind leases in the U.S. According to the report released by the American Wind Energy Association, if fully constructed, these leases will support up to 30 GW of offshore wind power – an estimated 83,000 jobs and $25 billion in annual economic production over the next decade.

“Today’s agreement expands career pathways of opportunities for our members to flourish in this transition. Our highly trained men and women professionals have the best craft skills in the world, and now will gain new experience in deep-water ocean work. Our agreement is based on a successful model developed by the Rhode Island Building Trades for the Block Island Wind Farm project. We commend Ørsted for coming to the table to work in partnership with us and our membership, and we also thank AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler for her help and support throughout the process.”

Sean McGarvey, president of NABTU.

Ørsted has the largest footprint of any offshore wind developer operating in U.S. waters, with 2.9GW of power contracts up and down the eastern seaboard from Rhode Island to Maryland. This announcement highlights the company’s desire to improve offshore wind’s role as an incubator for union green-collar job development and innovation.

“Ørsted believes the best workers are always the best-trained workers, and we are proud to have earned a strong record of working with skilled union labor to build the country’s first offshore wind farm, the Block Island Wind Farm, where more than 300 union workers were employed. We appreciate NABTU’s cooperation and the collaborative approach our union partners have brought to this endeavor and look forward to learning from and working with them on this groundbreaking partnership.”

David Hardy, CEO of Ørsted Offshore North America.

As part of this national context, Ørsted, along with its partners, will collaborate with the building trade unions to define the skills required to accelerate offshore wind construction work. These needs will be balanced by the available workforce, deadlines, scope of work and qualification criteria to meet Ørsted’s East Coast project pipeline, build expansive job prospects in a brand-new American industry for years to come, and lift economics for a just change in the renewable sector.

Ørsted and NABTU, along with their members and state and local councils, have agreed to work together on long-term strategic plans for the balanced and sustainable growth of Ørsted’s offshore wind projects. This planning effort would help ensure that the site and state-specific programming are ready when federal approvals are obtained and construction starts.

These are the green jobs of the future, and this paradigm indicates that a transition can only be achieved by prioritization of workforce training and middle-class labor standards with family-sustaining incomes, health insurance and pension security.

Ørsted remains completely committed to working with local unions and NABTU councils to establish a consistent workforce pipeline and a coherent network to ensure a successful just transition to the vast and complex nature of offshore wind production in the United States.

Nedim Husomanovic

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