PHOENIX - Arizona Corporation Commission Chairwoman Lea Márquez Peterson on August 12 met with Jacob Evenson of Boilermakers Local Lodge 627 to discuss how changes in the power sector are impacting hard-working Arizonans at Arizona’s electric power plants. (Boilermakers 627)
The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers, and Helpers is a labor union that represents over 50,000 industrial workers across the country that work in heavy industries, such as manufacturing, railroads, mining, steel, and power plants.
In Arizona, the Boilermakers help to build power plants and conduct critical maintenance during planned outages. They represent approximately 450 skilled workers and their families in Arizona and an additional 300 retirees in the state, which span from the Navajo Nation and White Mountains to Central and Southern Arizona.
“The power plant industry provides a work life that supports the lifestyle of generational tribal men and women,'' said Jacob Evenson, Business Manager and Secretary Treasurer of Local Lodge 627.
“Over 70 percent of members are Native American,” he said. “They travel from one power plant to another to keep Arizona’s electricity safe and reliable and then go back to their homes and their tribe to tend to their elders and the sheep and ranch. Their salaries are supporting more than just themselves; they’re supporting entire families.”
According to Chairwoman Márquez Peterson: “Organized labor such as the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers plays a critical role in Arizona’s economy and utility industry. When customers pay an electric bill, they’re not just paying for electricity; they’re supporting local communities and good-paying jobs for hundreds of hard-working Arizonans.”
“Paying utility workers a decent wage keeps more of our ratepayer dollars in Arizona’s economy and helps us ensure that we aren’t exporting our dollars to out-of-state entities that don’t abide by the same labor standards, offer the same benefits, or pay prevailing market wages,” said Chairwoman Márquez Peterson.
“Skilled labor at Arizona’s power plants has supported our economy for over 60 years,” said Chairwoman Márquez Peterson. “These are high-quality, high-paying jobs.”
Evenson stated that the Boilermakers support a diversified energy portfolio for reliable dispatchable energy but noted that many out-of-state renewable energy companies do not use Boilermakers in the installation and maintenance of renewable energy projects, such as wind and solar. Thus, while some renewable energy technologies may help to reduce the long-term cost of electricity for Arizona, they can also reduce the number of good-paying jobs for Arizona Boilermakers, including Boilermakers in rural communities and tribes that have relied on conventional power plants for generations.
Evenson noted that new energy technologies such as hydrogen, carbon capture, direct air capture, nuclear, biomass, and pumped hydro storage help to both promote new greenhouse gas reductions and protect high-quality, good-paying jobs in Arizona, especially for members of Boilermakers Local 627.
“Our Boilermakers are trained in the welding and rigging of pressure vessels, such as those utilized in traditional power plants. As a result, our Boilermakers do not have as many opportunities to work in renewable energy industries, such as wind and solar, as they do in new reliability technologies, such as hydrogen, nuclear, and carbon capture,” said Evenson.
“I want to thank the hard-working members of the international brotherhood for keeping our lights on and air conditioners running all these years, especially during the pandemic. Arizona’s power plant workers are ‘essential workers’ and will continue to be ‘essential’ long into the future,” said Chairwoman Márquez Peterson.
To learn more about the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers, and Helpers, click here.
To learn more about Boilermakers Local Lodge 627, click here.