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Archive for Sunday, August 5, 2001

Provision in energy bill takes care of unions

August 5, 2001

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— The energy bill passed by the House includes a promise that jobs created by new drilling in an Alaskan wildlife refuge will favor organized labor.

The measure, tucked away on page 487 of the 510-page bill passed last week, runs counter to one of President Bush's first actions as president, in which he barred such labor agreements from all federal projects.

The inclusion of the agreement helped convince the Teamsters union to support the Bush energy plan.

"Crucial? No. Important? Yes," said Jerry Hood, a Teamsters official from Alaska who has led the union's lobbying on the House bill.

The measure in the energy bill requires oil and gas companies holding the government leases in Alaska as well as their contractors to negotiate labor agreements with unions representing the kinds of workers needed for the projects.

Labor agreements prohibit awarding contracts to bidders that do not meet union-scale wages and benefits.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan sidestepped questions about the requirement, saying only that the House bill is "largely consistent with the administration's national energy plan" and that "we are continuing to work with Congress to improve upon this legislation."

Intense lobbying by the Teamsters and other unions representing construction trades and maritime trades was credited with swaying a number of Democrats and moderate Republicans for House passage Thursday.

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