Jul 11, 2018

Southeast Area Tripartite focuses on adapting with industry changes

Companies, contractors depend on trained-and-ready Boilermakers for mutual success

SAFETY, SHIPYARDS, THE power industry and the M.O.R.E. Work Investment Fund were hot topics during the 2018 Southeast Area Tripartite, March 26-28 in Destin, Florida. More than 115 company representatives, contractors and Boilermakers met under the uniting theme “Working Together for a Stronger Industry!” to build relationships, learn the latest industry info and confront challenges.

“We have important work to do together,” said Warren Fairley, International Vice President of the Southeast Section. “The industries where we work are changing before our eyes. It’s up to us as Tripartite partners to try to find solutions to work through the changes together.”

One key solution, unveiled by International President Newton Jones during the Tripartite kick-off, is the new M.O.R.E. Work Investment Fund.

“More than 30 years ago, we had some Boilermaker leaders and contractors come together to talk about [industry issues] – issues that are still relevant today,” IP Jones said. “From those meetings, we brought the owners in and built the tripartite alliance we participate in today.


“The industries where we work are changing before our eyes. It’s up to us as tripartite partners to try to find solutions to work through the changes together.”

– Warren Fairley, IVP-Southeast Section

“It has become clear that even though we’ve achieved a lot through the tripartite partnership and MOST programs, we need to do more. Change is taking place, and we need to change with it. We’re going to focus on building the strength of this organization, because our owners need us to be strong and to be able to properly man the work they have awarded to us.”

President Jones went on to outline how the M.O.R.E. Work Investment Fund, financed through construction Boilermaker contributions, will provide resources for increased marketing, organizing, recruitment and employment efforts.

In addition to showcasing the new future-focused Fund, tripartite topics included MOST Programs, Bank of Labor, the Boilermaker-Blacksmith National Pension Trust, safety, legislation and the Brotherhood History Preservation Department. Participants also gained insight from three data-rich keynotes by Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) Senior Technical Executive Thomas Reddoch, Tennessee Valley Authority Senior Vice President of Power Operations David Sorrick, and Huntington Ingalls Director of Labor Tony Skelton.

EPRI’s Reddoch explained how energy efficiency is causing a decreased demand for electric power, a trend he expects to continue, and how renewable energy sources — solar in particular — are negatively impacting electric utilities.

“In the next decade, we’re flat at best unless we get up off our behinds and do some things,” he said, noting that electric transportation could be a future game-changer to reignite demand. “With changes coming to the industry, training and education will play a key role in terms of being ready. We’ve got to start thinking now, because we’ve already started into transition.”

TVA’s Sorrick brought everyone up to speed on current projects, as well as on TVA’s unique structure as a governmental organization and its purpose to provide electricity rates as low as possible and with environmental stewardship. He credited Boilermakers for helping TVA exceed its goals and as an integral part of its future success.

“We want to thank you for your partnership with us,” Sorrick said. “Over one-third of our employees perform a skilled craft, and 100 percent of our craft workforce are covered by a union contract. [Boilermakers] are very important to us going forward. We can’t be successful without this kind of partnership.”

Skelton, of Huntington Ingalls reported 13 ships under construction, two ships in early fabrication and, in 2017, three major contracts awarded at its Pascagoula, Mississippi ship yard, which is a major employer for Southeast Section Boilermakers.

Huntington Ingalls, which celebrates its 80th anniversary this year, is also looking ahead to changes in its industry. Skelton showcased the company’s “Shipyard of the Future” program, which launched seven years ago to explore innovations in the people, shipbuilding process and shipyard facilities.

“Ingalls is performing well,” he said. “We’re making and meeting commitments. What you do today matters.”

THE SOUTHEAST AREA Tripartite wasn’t just about industry change and business relationships. It was also about Brotherhood. In lieu of donating branded swag for participant gift bags, 19 Southeast Section Boilermaker local lodges used the event to boost donations to the Disaster Relief Fund. Boilermakers in Texas, Florida and other southern areas were hit especially hard by natural disasters in the past two years.

“The Business Managers of the Southeast recommended they wanted to make a donation to the Disaster Relief Fund, and currently, just north of $14,000 has been donated,” IVP Fairley reported. “Of all the things we’ve done, I’m as proud of this as anything.”